Teachers Trained to Identify Language and Communication Disorders

A total of 120 teachers, were yesterday (April 26) presented with certificates for successfully completing a year-long course in language and communication disorder and delay, which was facilitated by the Jamaica Association on Mental Retardation (JAMR).
The number includes 92 educators, who work with children with intellectual disabilities, and 28 others from mainstream government institutions.
At the awards ceremony held at the School of Hope in Kingston, British-based speech and language expert, Heather Daley, who conducted the training, emphasized the “big need” in Jamaica for therapists, who can also do early identification of speech and communication impairments in mainstream schools. “There are only four therapists in Jamaica, all of whom are in private practice,” she said.
Noting that “60 per cent of students in schools need direct speech and language interventions,” she said the situation has created difficulties for children experiencing problems in these areas. “Think about living your daily life and not be able to communicate. think how difficult their lives must be,” she told the gathering.
The island wide training and empowerment courses also involved parents, community-based organizations, teacher training colleges, and early stimulation teachers.
Mrs. Daley informed that to date, 428 parents have been educated on basic speech, language and communication difficulties through the JAMR and Early Stimulation programmes. In addition 32 workers associated with the Early Stimulation Programme, have completed three days of a four-day course and “are going out in the field for early stimulation, and are going to do well too.”
Lectures were also offered to student teachers at all teacher training colleges “to prepare them for the speech and language difficulties they’ll meet in the classroom”. To date, two such lectures have been offered at the St. Josephs and Shortwood Teachers’ Colleges. Public education through media interviews was also part of the effort to educate and empower the Jamaican public, she added.
The series of training workshops, sponsored by the CHASE Fund and the Commonwealth Secretariat, were started in 2005 in collaboration with the JAMR and the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education and Youth.
The aim was to increase the capacity of teachers, parents and community- based organizations to deal with intellectual impairment facing up to 60 per cent of students in mainstream schools, and children, who because of the shortage of speech therapists in the island, were not receiving direct attention.
Chairman of the Chase Fund, Dr. Carlton Davis, who is also the Chairman of the Jamaica Special Olympics, endorsed the programme and pledged to support its continuance for another year.
“The whole education policy is not a policy restricted to those that fall in that middle part of the curve but people who are challenged in some way, and the work and activities of CHASE are part and parcel of this exercise, so I welcome this development and you can look to our continued support,” he stated.
Dr. Davis highlighted the need for Jamaicans to change their attitudes toward vulnerable persons in the society, including the poor, as well as the physically and intellectually challenged.

JIS Social