A ‘talk’ with a Speech Pathologist (Part 1)-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
SPEECH therapy is helpful for an individual with autism in coping with major deficits in social communication and interaction. According to the website of the Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists (PASP), professional speech pathologists promote the effective functioning of the speech, hearing, and language mechanism of individual persons by properly evaluating, identifying, managing, and preventing speech, language, voice, fluency, cognitive, and other related communication disorders, as well as feeding and swallowing problems. PASP has about 230 certified members all over the Philippines and this is very small as compared to the number of individuals who need their services. The PASP’s list shows a very limited number of cities and provinces in the Philippines with only two to five SPs per area.
The pioneer or very first Speech Pathologist that we have in Davao City is Ms. Davilin Avelina de Guzman Quilantang. She graduated with the degree in Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology from the University of the Philippines-Manila and took her Post-graduate Intensive Course in Dysphagia Diagnosis and Management at the University of Canterbury and Van der Veer Institute, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ms. Quilantang is a certified member of the Philippine Association of Speech Pathologists. She is a volunteer speech pathologist of Operation Smile International and Opsmile Mindanao Cleft Center. She is also a resource person for the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines-Davao Chapter, the current District Rotaract Chair of the Rotary Club of Pag-Asa Davao and a member of Pi Sigma Delta Alumni Association.
My eldest son was one of her first five patients way back in 1995 and we fondly call her Teacher Dav. Fortunately for the families with special children, Teacher Dav came back to Davao City after passing her Board Examinations. She said that she chose to specialize in speech pathology when a former professor of her mother and Head of the UP College of Allied Medical Professions (UP-CAMP), Dean Charlotte Floro, came to visit them and excitedly talked about UP-CAMP’s relatively new program. The Speech Pathology course started in 1978 but there were a few graduates. “I was initially drawn to the idea that it would be an ideal pre-med course since it is closely linked with medicine. I had plans then of pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor. It turned out that God had better plans for me. In time, I came to appreciate the gifts and opportunities that my chosen profession gives.”
Aside from being a competent Speech Pathologist, I see Teacher Dav as a person with a great heart. She says she looks at her profession as a chance to help people live better lives. “Seeing my kids improve in their communication skills or my ‘nanay/mommy;tatay/daddy’ regain their ability to converse or eat food by mouth following return of the functional swallow, gives me immense joy and satisfaction.”
“I get to play every day. With young patients, I always combine teaching with FUN to keep them engaged and interested. Play is not only an effective tool in facilitating interaction but it also helps develop a child’s problem solving skills and imagination. It increases his/her understanding of words and ideas. Each patient or case is a source for self-improvement.”
“Speech therapy is a process and at times, progress may be slowed down or impeded by a lot of factors including severity of condition, other issues associated with the disorder, lack of understanding and support from the family members and financial constraints. Thus, I learn to be more patient, tolerant, sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, creative, committed to work with others and assiduous in learning to be able to deliver the best possible care for my patients.” (To be continued)
(Jane Ann S. Gonzales is a mother of a youth with autism. She is an advocate/core member of the Autism Society Philippines and Directress of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) Davao, a centre for teenagers and adults with special needs. For comments or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 11, 2013.