ESHC’s Speech Program Director, Maryam Sadrzadeh, and a team of speech language pathology students from the University of Washington recently took a trip to Guatemala where they volunteered their time and expertise helping patients with varying degrees of communication and swallowing disorders. The group evaluated patients requiring various levels of therapy, from those with autism and Down syndrome to mild articulation disorders.
The experience was a boost of confidence for the SLPs, as they conducted their evaluations without any assistive tools, using raw knowledge alone in an area where the need for therapy was great. For example, the team had to jump into action when they learned that fifty children with autism from a specialized school were being sent their way for assessment.
Maryam’s time in Guatemala taught her a lot, but one important point really hit home: When it came to best improving function, the key to successful treatment was the therapist’s ability to build a collaborative relationship with families and other co-treating medical professionals. There was a good deal of time spent teaching families how to continue supporting the patient’s communication needs at home.