The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

19 November 2013

Why I Work As A Speech Pathologist



This article appeared on 18 November 2013 in the print and on-line versions of Manila Bulletin's "Angels Talk" under the by-line of Dang U. Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus.

When a Filipino child or adult has a disability like autism, he or she and the family experience many difficulties in managing and coping with the condition. Their efforts at coping become all the more daunting when necessary interventions fall short of expectation and demand.

Our angel talker this week is veteran speech pathologist Mae Sadicon, a pillar of the Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists and most of all, an advocate for Filipino children with special needs.

•••

Some people work to HAVE while others work to BE. Being a speech pathologist allowed me the best of both worlds. It enabled me to put food on the table and provide food for the soul – a wonderful combination that made me a better person, daughter, sister, teacher, therapist, and Filipino.

For four years, my home was Padre Faura and my “Adventure Time” (as my kids with needs would say) was within the skirts of UP-PGH (University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital).

I graduated from UP Manila College of Allied Medical Professions (CAMP). UP-CAMP pioneered speech pathology education in the Philippines. Since the Department was established in 1978, it has produced over 400 skilled, competent, and compassionate speech pathology practitioners. Part of what we are now, we owe it to this place. And we try to give back as much as we can.

DEFINING THE DISCIPLINE

Speech Pathology (SP) involves the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders that relate to speech, language, swallowing, fluency, voice and communication. A speech pathologist, sometimes informally called speech therapist, helps individuals who struggle with language and communication disorders. These are usually caused by neurological concerns, developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and other primary or associated conditions. People who experience problems with feeding and swallowing which make their speech and communication challenging, can also engage the services of a speech pathologist.

Although goals and procedures vary based on the nature and severity of the concerns, the program is ultimately directed towards optimizing function and enhancing the person’s quality of life. To be a speech pathologist, one entails exposure to various professional/major as well as foundation courses in college. At least a year is likewise devoted to clinical practicum and research courses.

WELCOME ADDITION

I can cite data and numbers and percentages. But perhaps words will do. Too many people with disability. Limited allied medical professionals. Basic terms of low supply and high demand that translate to frustration and helplessness. Because of the need to meet these needs, the University of Santo Tomas – College of Rehabilitation Sciences (UST-CRS) embarked on curricular development and proposed to offer the Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (BSSLP) in August, 2006. After much planning and hard work, the five-year BSSLP program was opened on the first semester of the academic year 2009-2010.

Two years after, Cebu Doctors’ University – College of Rehabilitative Sciences (CDU-CRS) followed suit. The school is the first to offer this SP program in the Visayas. With these developments, we are hoping that the tides will turn. That eventually, hope and quality service will yield the bigger percentage and data.

MY STAND

As you work with and for disadvantaged people, you embrace what they are and advocate their welfare. Therefore, it is very disheartening to hear first-hand and get hold of evidence, of people who call themselves speech pathologists and “work” as such but are not holders of a legitimate SP degree. These are graduates from certain universities that offer a 10-month SP program. I have heard of these “SP” individuals who have attempted (or offered) to handle sensitive, life-threatening cases (e.g. those swallowing disorders) that even legitimate, experienced SPs are wary of managing.

This is my stand. The SP profession does not purport to be the only discipline that can provide service to individuals with language, communication and related problems. After all, communication, and the burden that results from its breakdown is a responsibility that should be shared by all. I, for one, have worked with amazing and dedicated family members, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special education teachers, psychologists, behavioral therapists, and many others.

And lest it be misconstrued, this is not so much about these people working as “SPs” but more about those who are responsible for offering such programs. In order TO BE, we need to abide by the rules. We need ethics. We need competence and skills borne out of years of being taught and trained in school. We do not hide behind shallow justifications. We do not spout empty rhetoric to justify what we are doing and at the expense of the people whom we say we serve.

(ASP’s monthly seminar resumes on Nov. 30 with Teacher Landa Bautista, the curriculum director of The Learning Center, Inc. on “Training and Job Coaching Persons with Autism” and “ABCs of Job Coaching.” ASP will also hold the biggest “Angels Walk for Autism” on Jan. 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Register online at www.autismsocietyphils.org for free tickets.)

5 comments:

InnerJourney said...

My name is Sandie from Malaysia.


I know of a 3 year old boy who has a little challenge in his growing up years. He was diagnosed autistic about a year ago and has been undergoing treatment in a Singapore hospital for almost a year and is making satisfactory progress. The therapists attending to him hail from Philippines and Singapore.

Would you know of similar therapists in Philippines who might like to look into the possibility of taking up a private post to this child in Malaysia. We are looking at female, fresh graduates in that capacity. It will be a lived in job with the family and her responsibility is mainly to design the child's activities for optimum progress. She will also accompany the child and the mother to Singapore twice weekly for treatments and in so doing the therapist will actually acquire on the job training which will be useful to her in the future

Autism Society Philippines said...

Thanks for your note, Sandie. As a family support organization, ASP is sympathetic to the plight of parents all over the world in search of the right intervention professionals for their children. However, ASP is not legally authorized to refer individuals for foreign employment. Also, our organization is profoundly invested in keeping educators, therapists and medical specialists in the Philippines to care for an ever increasing population of individuals with autism.

Genedith Recla said...

I hope I could join with CDUH SLP program. Im interested to enroll as second courser. Im a nurse but because of the need of my child i was urge to study again. i hope they will accept second coursers.

Heather Beltran- Tio said...

Do you have a contact number? I need a speech therapy fnr my son.

Heather Beltran- Tio said...

How to contact you? I need a speech therapist for my son.

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