It is hard to think of not being able to communicate our wants and needs to others. That when we speak, others may not understand our language. For some of us, to communicate verbally is how we process what is going on in our lives. There are so many kinds of communication that belong under the large umbrella terms of non-verbal and verbal communication. Communication has been and is a big part of our work here in Guatemala. How so, you ask? Why, I would love to share :) Here are the 4 ways we have been working through communication.
We continue to work on our Spanish language skills with weekly classes, and learn a word here and there of Kaqchikel, the Mayan language of Santa Maria de Jesus. We learn so much of the culture when we learn the language of others. Kaqchikel is actually the primary language of the kiddos we serve in Santa Maria; Spanish is their second language and the language we use when serving them in therapy. So both the GOT Ministries OT providers and the kiddo we serve, get the beautiful opportunity to speak in our SECOND languages :) Check out the map above of all the Mayan languages in Guatemala. Kaqchikel is spoken in the south central region of Guatemala, where we work.
Quite a few of the kiddos we get the pleasure of working with struggle with verbal communication. Some of the kiddos with challenges in this area are the most effective non-verbal communicators. We are not speech therapists and do not pretend to be, because each therapy discipline has such a valuable perspective and role in serving people with different abilities. However, as occupational therapists, we do have the opportunity to work with kiddos on communication. What is the difference?--- SPEECH AND COMMUNICATION are not always the same thing, think about it. Speech therapy and occupational therapy overlap here, but we still look at communication from unique perspectives.
So, this last week, we introduced a communication device to a young girl with cerebral palsy we have served for years. She struggles with verbally communicating when out in the community and when she is nervous, like talking to the boy she likes in her classroom! Oh, man, can I identify and feel for her there! When we gave her her first opportunity ever to use a tablet and keyboard to help with communicating in those challenging environments, she painstakingly typed, "te quiero," which means I LOVE YOU! Be still my heart. Communication is beautiful and so powerful.
Communication among professionals is pivotal to serve the children we work with effectively. This is an opportunity that GOT Ministries has had the privilege to initiate with the amazing team at New Life School. We love to get people together to understand what the team is doing, and how we can come alongside the great professionals who are serving the kiddos every day. GOT has been able to meet with the school psychologist, the special education teacher, the administrator, the principal, and coordinated meetings for everyone to gather in order to increase communication among us. We also want to increase awareness between team members of each of our roles and purposes. To come together and unite in our purpose will allow us to truly provide holistic and comprehensive care to our kiddos.
Who knows what occupational therapy is? If you ask an occupational therapist, he/she would say that no one knows what we do! :) It is a complex and unique job, that gets compared to physical therapy more often than I would like to say. We love our PTs, but OT has a very important role on the team of professionals that needs to be understood better. We, as a profession, have been around for 100 years, celebrating this big milestone this year! Well, you can assume that occupational therapy is even more misunderstood in Guatemala. This specific purpose has been a great opportunity for us to share with the school, and the parents this trip. What in the 'wild, wild world of sports' (as my grandpa would say) is OT?!?! Well, we have been working on communicating this clearly at New Life and have had a teacher in-service to speak into this, as well as a greatly attended parent meeting! What a blessing. If you were perusing around New Life in your spare time, you would also find some great signage outside of our OT room about all the cool things we do!
Look for the next post to answer the daunting question of: WHAT IS OT?
COMMUNICATION IS A BLESSING
COMMUNICATION IS A CHALLENGE
COMMUNICATION IS EVERYWHERE
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.