Saturday, June 28, 2014

Escuela Havila

Friday was chaos. Sometimes, language barriers make for interesting communication. The team was getting close to exhaustion, and 150 students were needing our attention. The nine team members (Cori not included) set up their own station and the nine groups of children (two preschool classrooms and one classroom for k-6th grade) rotated through them every 15 minutes. Stations included a 20 foot parachute, a fine motor relay, planking competition, relay races, dodgeball, music, a self-esteem team building exercise, "Simon Says," and jump ropes. After lunch, Ronit, Amy and Angie gave a teacher presentation on sensory activities, implementing a reading program, and behavior modification techniques. This was followed by a parent training for over 30 parents. This is a fairly good sized group, as we had a torrential downpour over lunch, with flooded roads. When it rains like this, parents typically don't leave their house. Some of these families live in mud huts, and the house needs to be monitored, and the roads are a mud puddle. Ronit talked with the parents about some sensory exercises they can do with their hyperactive children, and Angie talked about positive communication and self-esteem. We were treated to Pizza Hut last night, as rice and beans seemed like the less inviting option, and spent the evening packing up those suitcases! The internet is being fickle, which means I can't add photos to this post as of yet, but watch our Facebook page for them soon!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tesoros Day 3

Our morning at Tesoros de Dios was spent presenting to the staff (teachers, therapists, and administration) on each discipline. We started with Amy, who gave a presentation on implementing a reading program. Next was PT Pam. She gave a presentation on Cerebral Palsy and how the staff can talk to the parents of children with CP to create realistic goals. She then did an interactive transfer training (moving a body from one area to the other). We’ve been amazed watching these petit women carrying their full-grown children. The staff was trained, so they can then train the parents in proper carrying techniques to avoid injuring themselves.
Angie talked about ABA (applied behavior analysis) techniques and Autism, using a DVD powerpoint. She also talked about early childhood development (ECD), and the stages of development. She provided printed resources on ECD ages two months to five years that listed typical development, and interventions to implement if a child has not reached a specific milestone. (Trisha let Angie do all the talking). Bessie presented on music therapy, including two interactive musical examples with the staff. Lastly, Ronit the OT talked about sensory processing disorder, including demonstrations with the staff simulating how a child with sensory issues might feel. She also gave examples of how to assist these children who are either under-stimulated or overstimulated, like swinging, deep pressure, chewy tubes, and wheel barrow races.
Abby was our time keeper and kept us on track. We then spent 45 minutes presenting and explaining the plethora of donations, lead by Trisha. Thanks to all the people who contributed to this trip so we could bless this location with an abundance of gifts and supplies. After lunch, we spent time working with the students we had evaluated on Tuesday to help implement some of the suggestions from the morning’s presentation. Other team members saw new children that needed some intervention. At the end of the day, the staff at Tesoros gathered with us, thanked us, gave us a small gift, and prayed over us. There was also some visiting with the resident monkey, Jorge.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tesoros De Dios, Dia Dos

The children at Tesoros can only come to school two days a week, because Tesoros does not have enough staff to help all 90 children in the program simultaneously. Because of this, we saw new children today (Wednesday) than we did on Tuesday. This means more assessments and observations. We are sitting here again and discussing our day. Some of the highlights include: PT Pam got to work with the little ones today. Instead of assisting the local physical therapists, she spent her time in the Early Intervention room helping the mom's understand their babies' Cerebral Palsy or seizure disorder. She helped one little boy get ready to crawl. The team was impressed with his mom and her receptivity to our suggestions. Angie noted that the mother stated she plans on implementing all of the strategies so as to be ahead of the physical therapists next week. Lindsey and Trisha were able to fix a child's glasses that kept sliding down his face with friendship bracelets! This was the best part of her day. When they asked him if there was an improvement, he exclaimed, "They're like new!" Angie's positive of the day was having the opportunity to rely on an interdisciplinary team, so she can ask questions of others when she is stuck or feeling unknowledgeable. Caitlin had a moment when she got to play with the sibling of a child with special needs. She realized as she was playing that the boy probably didn't get much attention at home because of the situation with his sibling. Caitlin was sad to see him go, but when she waved goodbye to the van, he smiled back and made her day! Ronit is currently with another team in our compound who has agreed to Ronit's request of making a table for a family that does not have one, so their son with muscular dystrophy can eat independently. They are also making scooter boards for our Friday visit.
Amy worked with a sixteen year old who had a learning disability and was embarrassed to be at a school for kids with special needs. He was taking a grammar quiz being dictated orally, and so to make him feel less embarrassed, she took the quiz with him. It's important to note that Amy has never taken a Spanish class in her life (and, in fact, took French!) so it was a fair competition. Lorena is excited that a previously reserved teacher that seemed unresponsive is now willing to talk with her about her suggestions. Bessie spent some time observing students, and saw one student who could not sit still, was constantly tipping her chair, and smelling everything in sight. Bessie went and got the Occupational Therapist who starting giving lots of suggestions to calm her down. Once Ronit completed some interventions with her, she calmed down. They then asked the teacher, "Do you see a difference?" And the teacher said, "She's sitting in one place and doing what she is supposed to!" The parents were able to talk to Ronit for quite a while and they are returning tomorrow for more information. We have one more day at Tesoros De Dios, including a teacher/staff training! P.S. Check our Facebook page for photos from today!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tesoros De Dios (Treasures of God)

Tesoros De Dios is a school in Managua for children with various disabilities, from learning disabilities to severe Autism and Cerebral Palsy. The team is sitting here talking about the positives of the day. Highlights from the day: Pam, the PT, got two kids to walk with walkers we brought down that had never before walked. One was a three-year-old with Cerebral Palsy, who's mother's only desire was that her son could walk. We made that dream a reality! Thank goodness Lindsey faked a knee injury to get that walker on the plane!
Our early intervention team of Angie and Trisha reiterate how awesome the above moment was. Trisha was entirely impressed with the early intervention director, commenting that she was incredible. There were only a few suggestions made and each one was accepted with enthusiasm. Angie was glad to be able to lend a listening ear to the parents who needed to tell their stories about being a parent of a child with special needs. Amy put on her Education Specialist hat today, leaving Bessie to do music solo. Amy saw five pre-selected students to help create new educational goals and suggestions for the current special education teachers. She saw children that could really benefit from a reading specialist, but will do her best to provide some basic training on Thursday. Two students were needing updated goals, giving her some influence and direction for these children's education. Lorena loved that she was able to co-treat today. She was able to work with Bessie, the Music Therapist, and the student's teachers. This is because pulling kids for one-on-one assessments would be less beneficial than watching the children in their natural schedule. Lorena saw great implementation of various programs including PECS, visual schedules, and token boards. She also got to talk with a lot of the parents, which was inspirational. One parent was even part of a committee for children with Down Syndrome in Nicaragua who is pushing for more inclusion and academic based instruction for her son. Ronit, our Occupational Therapist, has many positive experiences from today. It was a blessing for her to have Lindsey, her own personal assistant who is interested in OT, helping her. Ronit was impressed with the two PT's on staff at Tesoros who were very educated, yet open to suggestions. A heartwarming experience for her included swinging with a boy with muscular dystrophy who had never before been on a swing.
Last, but not least, Bessie the Music Therapist was tickled to have a child with Cerebral Palsy play her guitar with his feet, since those were much more controlled than his hands. When working with another child with Aspergers, Bessie was impressed to see his enthusiasm and discussion about her instruments and his ability to express and identify his feelings.
WE all love Cori, our is an amazing photographer, who made the above photos possible.

New Life Nicaragua, Day Two

All of today was spent at New Life with lots of therapy, rotating children, and staff training. We began by dividing the children into three groups by age. The babies (8 months and younger) and their staff went with Ronit, Trisha, and Angie to learn infant massage techniques. The five and six year olds did an hour of music therapy with Bessie and Amy, and the six toddlers were with the teenagers hanging out. Rotations happened once before we went to lunch. After lunch, the music therapists saw the three babies, Pam observed half of the toddlers, and Trisha and Ronit saw the other half. Lorena, our SLP, pulled kids for one-on-one assessments throughout the day. The rest of the afternoon was spent talking with the director of the orphanage. The therapists were able to communicate their findings, suggestions, and demonstrate how to use donated equipment. The director and staff were very receptive to all of this, which is wonderful! Below are some photos of the therapists hard at work/

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day One, New Life Nicaragua

Our first blog post since we landed! We are finally able to get internet, and so we will take a few moments to share with you what our Sunday looked like. We went to church today at "Verbos" church. The service began with no power (which means no worship or air conditioning) and continued with a generator and still no air conditioning. There was much singing and dancing and praying (and sweating), and a sermon that was translated from Spanish to English via headphones for us "gringos." After lunch, we went to New Life Nicaragua- an orphanage for children with special needs in Managua. There are currently 13 children living at New Life, with one additional child in foster care. These children found their way to New Life from various situations, including horrific sexual abuse from family members, abandonment at the hospital, & abuse at other orphanages. Pam, our Physical Therapist, spent her time assessing the three littlest babies, Patricia (2 months), Lelya (8 months), and Ismael (3 months). Trisha, our Rec therapist, assisted Pam, and Angie helped to interpret to the orphanage staff Pam's findings and suggestions. The rest of the team spent time getting to know the children as an initial assessment, and will do some more structured activities tomorrow. I know you are all dying to see some pictures, and we will do our best very soon. Please make sure to check our FB page for updates. Uploading photos can get tricky with spotty internet. Hasta Manana (hopefully)!