Ica, Peru: Speech therapy

Dr. Berkowitz says:  Now we hear from Lesly, a first year student in the graduate program at Mercy College.  She and Ashley were under the supervision of Lindsay Naylor, Mercy alumna.  The hospital at Ica gives us their pediatric auditorium, which is kind of a utility room.  We turn it into a consult and conference room as needed, often carrying on multiple sessions at once.  All part of the fun.  Note:  although the students did not attend surgery on Monday, they did observe later in the week–always a thrill.

First day:  Today was the first day of speech therapy.
The day started off setting up at 7:30 am at the hospital. This included
getting the handouts with information ready in packets for the
parents. Then the parents started arriving with the children at 8:30am
to the speech therapy room. Their faces were filled with eagerness and they
seemed ready to talk to the speech therapists.
There were many different children of all different ages including
little babies and adults. Speech therapy was given either in groups or
in individual sessions. Lindsay lead the team with her expertise and
was completely wonderful. She started with a group session with
parents who had babies with either a cleft lip or cleft palate. We
gave our information to the parents along with directions on how to
feed their baby after therapy. We also gave them background
information on the compensatory errors the child can produce later on
as they grow up because of the cleft palate. Along with feeding
therapy information, we reassured them that everything was going to be
fine and that surgery was going to be a success. After spending time
with the parents of babies we moved on to older children ranging from
the years of 5-9 years old who were going to get a cleft palate
surgery. We explained to them and showed them examples of the
compensatory errors the children were making and why they were doing
it. We explained to them that because of the cleft palate they did not
have separate nasal and oral cavities therefore leading to
insufficient velopharyngeal closure. We demonstrated on one another
taking turns showing them what techniques the parents can use after
the children receive surgery. We demonstrated blowing air out through
their mouth by blowing on a tissue in front of their face while
producing a plosives such as /p/. The parents practiced with us and
the children were listening carefully. The children seemed excited as
we also gave them toys to entertain themselves. That worked as a
motivation for them to pay attention to us and listen to what we were
saying. The parents were so motivated themselves, we haven’t seen
anything like it. They were beyond eager to learn from us and they
were enormously grateful as shown by they hugs and kisses. Parents
even said they were going to bring in treats for us during the week!
How exciting.
The next group we worked with was an adult who unfortunately was not a
candidate for surgery because of of her age and the lack of tissue she
had in her mouth.  There needs to be a certain amount of free tissue for the reconstruction of the palate. However, she did had a prosthetic device that she used to cover the cleft in
her mouth. We gave her a consultation on trying to receive a new
prosthetic device for her that will be able to help her more. She was
more than happy with the help she received.
Then we saw a group of two children who have already received surgery
for their cleft palate last year and were returning for therapy. We
showed them how to blow air on the tissue, and how to blow a tissue
with their mouth using the plosive /p/ across the table. Along with
that, we also showed them how to produce the /h/ sound before a
syllable or a  word. The children were really motivated
and the parents even more. They promised us they would come back for
therapy through out the week.
After, we have a 3 year old boy who’s mother brought him in for an
evaluation for autism. The mother said that the therapist here in Ica
said the child might have autism and perhaps could have epilepsy later
down the road. Lindsay with her great knowledge and skills reassured
her that he was going to be taken care by us and we would help her as
much as we could with information on how to proceed. We recommended language
therapy for now in order to build his language. Also,Lindsay confirmed
some signs that the child shows that indicate he may be on the autism
spectrum. The mom was very supportive and touched our hearts by saying
she was going to work hard to get her child through it. She said she
was going to come back everyday so she can learn the different
techniques to use in order to motivate her child to talk and how
demonstrate to him certain gestures. The mom left extremely grateful
and hugged all of us.
The day concluded by us visiting outside the OR. We did not have a
chance to observe surgery however, we did see the excitement on
parents faces after their children came out with a brand new cleft lip
repaid or cleft palate repair. Pictures were taken with the doctors
and the nurses along with the Peruvian medical students. They were all
beyond grateful.


About Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz

Shari is a speech language pathologist and assistant professor of communication disorders at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY.
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2 Responses to Ica, Peru: Speech therapy

  1. Rey Thompson says:

    Hi Shari,

    Can you recommend a Speech Language Pathologist in Trujillo or Lima , Peru

    Thank you


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