It saddens one, to hear them trying to formulate words correctly, failing again and again, failing to tell their stories which are bound to remain secrets forever. In an attempt to rectify this situation, Sunera has introduced speech therapy for the workshop participants who are in need of it.
The pilot project is at the Dehiwala workshop, employing Thisamedinie Wijerathne and Suranga Premarathna, graduates of the Language and Speech Therapy Degree course at the University of Kelaniya, to give therapy and training to the children as well as parents.
Since the problems vary with each participant, therapists have to pay attention to each case individually and give ‘homework’ to parents to continue with therapeutic activities at home.
Due to the learning disability that plagues the children coupled with other disorders, the speech therapists have to raise their understanding on social pragmatism along with the usual therapeutic activities. Speech Therapist Suranga said, “Participants of the ages 26, 27 years still think that they are kids, due to various disorders. So, while continuing with speech therapy, we focused on improving their sense of social pragmatism as well, since it affects their speech patterns.”
It has not been an easy ride, said Suranga, explaining that the children, especially the ones with autism and attention deficiency, get distracted easily, making it difficult for the therapist to get his attention focused on the activity again.
Suranga explained that since this is a pilot project, they started off by focusing on short term goals. The short term goal would be to get a child with hearing disabilities to properly articulate bilabial sounds within six months. The next stage would be to work towards the long term goal, which would be to enable them to make sentences of 3- 5 words. The long term goals would contribute to enhancing their level of expression. Currently, most of the participants use one word sentences when answering questions. The victory would be to get them to reply ‘by bus’ when someone asks how they came in the morning, without simply saying ‘bus’.