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
 Lizards that skitter across a window like this or
moths that are the size of bats who even I, who fear insects never, do not want to see disturbed.  Aside from the intrusion of local wildlife via broken window pains and ill fitting doors, there were some real highlights.
This little guy was a real joy, he gets around by scooting on his knees, but is learning to walk, he love to play games and engage with others, but cannot say much of anything.  His mom has a heart of gold.
Active, active, active, I will say it again, "active!" This kid could really get around.  If you could slow him down long enough, he could repeat just about anything that was said to him.
This little girl has quite a story, she received a donated wheelchair that is far too big for her and thus she tends to lurch right out of it.  Today she was "fit" for a "new" wheelchair, refurbished might be a better word for it, notice the car seat strap in front.  At least now mom will be able to get her around on the bus without having to carry her or have her fall out of a wheelchair.
This was our first evaluation of the morning.  A little girl with expressive and receptive language delays, it would be awesome to see her for treatment once a week, but this is Guatemala and we had to make do with passing on recommendations to the grandmother.
Our group translator holding her namesake.  If you stick around here long enough, you may get a baby named after you.

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.

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