Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Guatemala Trip Day 2
Today was our first real therapy day working in a local clinic. Although a typical day at the office does not usually include
The similarities between American parents and those that we encountered today were amazing. It didn't surprise me that all of the parents who brought their children to the clinic for a speech and language evaluation cared deeply about, loved, and wanted the best for their children, what did surprise me was the similar responses to referrals and home recommendations. Some parents came in today deeply concerned that their child, at age 5, could not trill his "r's," they were worried about all kinds of things including possible diabetes?! Another mother excused her child's lack of meaningful language at age 5, saying that he used his own made up language at home and his cousins and grandparents all understood, so what is the problem? If anyone thinks that kind of thing doesn't happen in the states, guess again. Then there were the well educated, professional parents who came in with their nanny and we were a bit nervous to present our findings, that the child definitely needed further evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorder, to them. They were both relieved and distraught when we made the referral, relieved because they had done a fair amount of research on their own and they were not all that surprised and distraught because they were losing that hope.
I wish that I could speak Spanish, our Spanish speaking students and interpreters were busy running here there and everywhere. At around 2:00pm we got word that 50 children with Autism were going to descend on the tiny clinic in about 30 minutes. We made a plan and descend they did, it took us under 5 minutes to figure out that not all, not even most of those children actually had Autism. Which was good, because 50 children on the spectrum in one location at any time can be a challenge for even the most seasoned of therapists and not so good because the children present had a whole host of other speech and language concerns that we had to sort out and make appropriate recommendations to parents.
When we were all done, we rode home in a Hearts in Motion van that did not have air conditioning with a driver who successfully navigated through fruit vendors selling bags of mango and papaya in the middle of the two lane road and parked the van precariously close to another vehicle without hitting it yet again so that we could get ready and unwind from an extremely productive day by doing this.