On day two at the school, I started by learning some great new songs that I can’t wait to bring back and modify for English speakers! Then, I observed a reading lesson. It was very clear to me how much the teachers cared for their students, but it was equally clear that there are many factors stacked against them in their quest to teach these students to listen and talk.
The poverty of the Dominican Republic struck me in various ways during various parts of the trip, as I described above, but when it really hit home for me was when I was changing my money as I prepared to leave at the airport.
On Thursday, we drove to Costa Rica’s rainforest canopy. It was amazingly lush, filled with all kinds of insects and animals, and humid! At Turu Ba Ri park, we were able to ride zip lines across the canopy for an amazing view of wild Costa Rica, and take a horseback tour. While on our tour, the guide told us about Costa Rica’s national tree, the guanacaste. The guanacaste is a large, shady tree, which is nice, but what really blew me away was the meaning behind the tree. Guanacaste means “EAR TREE” in the native Costa Rican language! When dried, the fruits of the tree look like curled ears. Native tribes would use them as soap and also shake the sead pods as instruments in religious rituals. Of all of the souveniers from this trip, I think the “ear” from the guanacaste tree will be my favorite. What an amazing coincidence!
Today, we returned to the Cen Cenai public preschool center (like HeadStart in the US) to continue our screenings for hearing, vision, cognition, speech, and language. Overall, we were able to screen about 75 children and provide appropriate recommendations for follow-up as needed. Conducting the hearing screenings was difficult, however, due to the incredibly noisy environment at the school. As I mentioned before, the walls are concrete and the floors are tile. Windows are left open for ventilation, and the room in which we were screening was right next to the children’s play area, which was partially enclosed, further echoing all of the noise. As such, it was difficult to hear the 25dB tones we presented via portable audiometer, and the OtoAcoustic Emissions (OAE) tester we brought would give false negatives due to background noise quite frequently. It was far from ideal, but we made it work and, hopefully, provided the children (and their parents and teachers) with valuable information that will help them reach their full potentials.
We began our trip today at Centeno, a school for deaf children in Costa Rica that uses sign language. The school is just one department on the campus of the Center for Inclusive Education in CR. I’m not so sure what they mean by “inclusive,” though, because it was a school of all deaf children, across the street was a school for all blind children, and next door was a school for all children who had developmental disabilities. Inclusive? Not quite. Maybe it’s because they the children at this school are “included” in education at all, but it was a very sad thing.
Today was Day one of my trip to Costa Rica with a group from my graduate program at Fontbonne University. Three graduate students in the Early Intervention in Deaf Education program (one of whom is a native of Costa Rica), another SLP graduate student, a professor in Deaf Education, and I are here in Costa Rica for a week filled with activities designed to spread awareness of childhood hearing loss and listening and spoken language options for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We began our day today at Kinder Papillon, an inclusive preschool that educates children with hearing loss (along with some children with other disabilities) and their hearing peers. The children in the school range from about age 2 until pre-kindergarten age, at which point the children are mainstreamed into their home schools. While at Kinder Papillon, we observed the children during snack time, play time, and even their English class! In all of the classes, the children with hearing loss participate along with their hearing peers using listening and spoken language. During the school day, they receive both pull-out (child goes to the teacher of the deaf’s office) and push-in (therapist comes to the general education classroom to provide support) services.