Review Article

Communication training for centre-based carers of children with severe or profound disabilities in the Western Cape, South Africa

Martha Geiger
African Journal of Disability | Vol 1, No 1 | a10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v1i1.10 | © 2012 Martha Geiger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 August 2011 | Published: 21 September 2012

About the author(s)

Martha Geiger, Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide a preliminary, qualitative review of an approach to training centre-based carers in supporting basic communication development and providing communication opportunities for the children with severe and profound disabilities in their care. In South Africa, these children are often the most neglected in terms of planning and providing appropriate interventions. For those with severe communication disabilities, an additional lack is in the area of the basic human right to meaningful interactions and communication. Sustainable strategies to provide opportunities for basic communication development of these children are urgently sought. Several effective international and local parent training programmes have been developed, but the urgent need remains to train centre-based carers who are taking care of groups of diversely disabled children in severely under-resourced settings. Non-profit organisations (NPOs) have been exploring practical centre-based approaches to skills sharing in physical rehabilitation, activities for daily living, feeding and support for basic communication development. As a freelance speech therapist contracted by four NPOs to implement hands-on training in basic communication for centre-based carers of non-verbal children, the author describes a training approach that evolved over three years, in collaboration with the carers and centre managements. Implications for training (for speech therapists and for community-based rehabilitation workers) and for further research are identified.

Keywords

basic communication; centre-based carer training; non-verbal children; severe and profound disabilities; special care centres

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