This trip would not be as productive as it is without our volunteers in Peru who get the word out about the mission, arrange for family transport, hotels near the hospital, meals, etc. On this trip, in addition to kids who need lip or palate surgery, our patient finders brought 15 kids with developmental disabilities…kids with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other kids needing help with speech and language. This is a new idea for Healing the Children Northeast, and a great opportunity for the speech team.
The hospital gave us a small auditorium on campus, and the dentist, Dr. Daniel (sorry, I don’t know his last name, but Luis does), made sure to get the families there on time. In the morning, we gave an interactive talk on how to develop speech and language skills in children who are struggling to communicate. Each parent expressed their most pressing concerns, and we addressed these in our demonstrations. In addition to lecture style, we acted out how to help kids move to the next level of communication. Parents were extremely tuned in and listened intently to our advice. We talked about total communication–using signs, gestures, and pictures along with oral speech to expand vocabulary and increase successful transmission of messages from child to parent and back again.
It was a very full morning, with lots of new information for the families to absorb. After a short lunch break, we then saw all the families individually for a mini-evaluation and treatment plan. Each family left for home with a set of recommended activities and goals for the future. They were extremely glad to have had the opportunity to meet with us, despite the sixteen hour trip down from the mountains of Huancavelica.
Joining us on developmental disabilities day was the psychologist from the area where the children live, and two staff members, in lauding SLP Caroll Arpi Quispe, from KusiRostros, an organization providing therapy for kids with clefts in Lima. So, we continue to create new connections for collaboration, between us and our Peruvian colleagues, and also amongst the various Peruvian professionals, working far away from each other geographically, but for the same goals. Another great outcome for our speech team.
We kissed all the kids goodbye and wished them well. Perhaps DDD will be an ongoing event, or perhaps we will find other ways to serve these families. As on all our trips, we roll with the punches and cook up good ideas every day as we go.