What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy focuses on improving a child's speech and abilities to understand and express language
Speech therapy includes two components:
- Coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (to address articulation, fluency/stuttering, and voice disorders)
- Understanding and expressing language through verbal and nonverbal means, such as writing, gestures, pictures, body language, signs, and alternative communication systems such as computers, iPads, and low-tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.
Speech therapists also provide feeding and swallowing therapy for people who struggle with chewing, swallowing, and food aversions.
Speech therapists are trained to treat:
- Anxiety and Self-Regulation Challenges
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Auditory Processing Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cognitive Communication Disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Feeding Aversions & Swallowing Disorders
- Language Comprehension & Processing Disorders
- Sensory Processing Disorders
- Social Challenges
- Speech/Articulation Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Social worker visits communities or families to determine the need for intervention and therapy services
- Based on the needs, the speech therapists evaluate and make recommendations
- During the assessment, we educate parents and caregivers about disabilities and provide them with correct information about causes of disabilities, available therapy options, and their child’s potential
- A key component of our assessments is equipping the parents and caregivers with individualized home programs so they have the tools to begin helping their child develop speech and language at home
- We show them how to do various exercises from the Masgutova Method (MNRI) to improve the function and coordination of the nerves and muscles for speech and feeding
- We also encourage parents to play and interact with their children. We show them different games and activities to play at home to help their child begin communicating.
- After the initial assessment, we see the children and their parents for weekly therapy or continue to meet with them on a consultative basis
One for Two
No one in Uganda – respective of income – has consistent access to high quality speech and language therapy services. Over the past 12 months, while working mainly with families living in abject poverty, we also discovered that it is not only the poor who are in dire need of speech therapy services. We began receiving numerous calls and referrals from middle and upper-class families. These families expressed that they needed just as much support as the families we were currently working with. They could become a source of funding and support to our organization and subsidize the work we do for the poorest of the poor. Those who have can be an important source of funding for those who don’t. One for two.
These families were finding that the other six therapists who were practicing in the country lacked the skills and education needed to adequately help their children develop the skills for communication and feeding. One family had been looking for a speech therapist for four years and they had hired and fired several speech therapists because they were causing more harm to the child’s development. After consulting with Hope Speaks staff and board members, all members were in agreement that expanding services to paying clients could be a great opportunity for improving the sustainability of Hope Speaks going forward and helping us reach more families and communities in Uganda.
It is with this in mind that Hope Speaks developed an innovative 1-for-2 model, whereby the money paid by private clients is leveraged to provide the same quality service to two children in poverty who lack access to and/or resources for speech and language therapy.
- A parent knows their child best. At Hope Speaks, we strive to come alongside parents to give them the education, information, and tools they need to understand their child’s strengths and challenges so they can advocate for their child and help them reach their full potential.
- We host trainings at local schools and organizations to train their teachers, staff members, and caregivers on the basics of communication development and speech therapy interventions so they can begin fostering speech and language development in the children that they work with on a daily basis.
- Internships for Ugandan Speech Therapists. We believe that the future of Ugandans lies in the hands of Ugandans. It’s with this in mind that we offer 9 month clinical fellowships for up and coming Ugandan Speech therapists. These internships help provide them with much needed clinical experience to be competent therapists in their communities and anywhere that they go.
- In the future, we hope to set up a training facility that will train and equip assistant speech therapists
We stand with children with disabilities and work diligently to encourage communities and decision makers to raise voices for children with disabilities in Uganda and to ensure that those voices resound in their communities and around the world.