Support Children with Special Needs as a Volunteer

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Many developing countries commit limited resources to supporting children & adults with special needs, due to cultural preconceptions.

The efforts to support those with special needs, whether blind, physically or mentally disabled, or those with learning difficulties, are typically small scale community projects who receive little or no state funding.

Volunteers provide invaluable support to such projects, whether providing professional help delivering therapies, teaching to those outside the school system, or providing improved caring capacity where it is needed most.

Volunteers seeking experience in working with special needs are hugely valuable, providing support and compassion to the local clients and staff.

Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech & language therapists, teachers trained in dealing with hearing impairments or the blind, or experienced in supporting those with disabilities are valued for the capacity they bring and the transfer of skills.

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Questions & Answers


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Yes, I recommend this program

ABEI project in Quito, Ecuador (with Occupation Therapy involvement)

Within the project I worked in the kindergarden (12 children with special needs aged 2 to 5) & in the OT rooms linked to the project. I was involved in assisting with the children's needs & in activities to further their development e.g. sensory integration, hand-eye coordination activities, facilitating normal movement development, encouraging language development & communication. Within the OT practice the OT often saw multiple children at a time & enaged them in multiple typical OT activities. As someone currently studying OT I assisted the children in these activities & sometimes conducted the intervention sessions independently. I had limited to no Spanish before lessons on arrival but managed to communicate with the children & their level pf Spanish. A highlight of the experience of volunteering was also staying with a host family. This allowed me to be immersed in the culture & was really insightful & fun. Having other volunteers I'm with the same host family was also good as it caused many interesing conversations & so a group of us could explore Ecuador together. Overall I would highly recommend the project or volunteering in general! It was an incredible month & was amazing to be involved in such a good cause.

What would you improve about this program?
More information provided prior to departure on materials the kindergarden & OT may need. On arrival we received information on common conditions & items needed (but then it was too late!).
Limited need for volunteers past 1pm (we arrived at 8.30am each day) which would of been useful to know beforehand.
We received reviewed & updated information right before our departure but some of this was still out of date e.g. there's no departer tax when leaving the Ecuador.