“We also try to make the parents understand that whatever condition their children are suffering from is not their fault. Most of them feel guilty, thinking that a mistake they made might have resulted in the disability of their children,” the medic said.
Credit: ACI Africa
For about one and a half months now, Dr. Reyes and Dr. Ruiz-Esquide have examined 25 children in the company of their parents and intend to examine 45 more children at the centre. The team has created files for all children to monitor each child’s progress for their three-month stay in the program.
The Chilean medics are also training staff who will sustain the program once they leave for their native country at the end of the three months.
“We’ll be taking care of the most complicated part of the program in the three months we’ll be around. After we are done, we’ll leave behind well detailed files that the staff at the centre will use to follow up on the progress of the children. We are also designing a manual that other staff at the centre will use once we are gone,” Dr. Reyes told ACI Africa November 29.
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James Ayunga, an occupational therapist at the special needs school that is run by the Sons of Divine Providence, said that the program by the Chilean doctors was timely for the centre that he said is focusing on early intervention among children with disability.
“We started the centre with children of different ages and even adults and it wasn’t easy for the centre to mark their progress. Some of them came a little too late and there was only so much we could do in terms of intervention,” Mr. Ayunga said.
He added, “As we focus on early intervention of disabilities, we want to reach pregnant mothers and create awareness among them that intervention is best when applied early; that there is a lot that can be done to the brain of a small child. We want them to know that autism can be diagnosed in a child who is as young as a day old.”
The Kenyan Occupational Therapist said that the centre will be founded on children who are also as young as two years old, “those the centre can walk with in their journey of transformation years and chart a pattern of their progress; children whose story of transformation the centre can narrate from their younger age.”
Credit: ACI Africa
The November 29 engagement between staff at Orione Community Training Centre and the media was aimed at creating awareness among members of the press in Kenya on the importance of early intervention and stimulation among children living with disability.
The event was held ahead of the Friday, December 3 celebration of the International Day for Persons Living with Disabilities.
Richard Manyara, the Project Manager at the facility run by Orionine Fathers, a congregation founded by St. Luigi Orione, said that many parents do not seek intervention for their children living with disability.
“As a result of stereotypes, ignorance and lack of resources, many parents keep their children at home in the early years, which are the most important for therapy such that when they bring the children to the centre, it is always a bit too late and very difficult to intervene,” Mr. Manyara told ACI Africa November 29.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.