I am grateful to Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center Bohol (STAC-Bohol) for inviting me as one of the guest speakers during the first ever interdisciplinary team meeting held at the Panda Tea Garden last Wednesday.
I believe it was a long overdue gathering. With demands increasing, it is high time for medical and allied professionals to collaborate and provide diverse yet complete early intervention and care especially for children with disabilities.
Dr. Edgardo B. Epe, a child neurologist and medical director of the COOP Hospital, was the first to share his roles and responsibilities. As a child neurologist, he is responsible in diagnosing, treating, and managing children with conditions such as seizure disorders, behavioral disorders including ADHD, autism, school failure, sleep problems and the like. He also diagnose and treat developmental disorders and intellectual disorders among others.
The good thing about the presence of Dr. Epe is that our children should not be going to other places anymore for diagnosis and follow-ups since we already have a competent specialist who is locally based.
But he can only do so much. After his quick screening, Dr. Epe may refer his patients to other professionals for specific evaluation and treatment. For instance, if he finds out that a child has autism, the next question will be, how functional is he? What is the appropriate intervention for him?
As a clinical psychologist, my role is to conduct a thorough evaluation of the child using a battery of neuropsychological tests that will assess the level of functioning of the child in several areas such as attention and executive functioning, language, memory and learning, motor functioning, intellectual functioning, and socioemotional functioning. I then make a detailed report containing my diagnosis and recommendation. If it involves trauma and other emotional issues, I do counseling and psychotherapy for them.
If the child is found out to be deficient in several areas of functioning, he will be referred to an occupational therapist. After doing his own screening, the OT will help the client to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. OTs not only help client improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities but also to compensate for permanent loss of function as shared by Mr. Gligen F. Nistal and Ms. Nikki Wall.
The role of physical therapists, as discussed by Ms. Jeanette Racho and Ms. Marjorie Lynn Magno, focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of individuals who have medical or health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
Many children also present problems in language and speech. Ms. LourizaDanigoyLagahit, a US licensed speech language pathologist, explained that her role is to prevent, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children. She begins with an initial screening and continues with assessment and diagnosis, consultation for the provision of advice regarding management, intervention, and treatment, and provision of counseling and other followup services for communication disorders.
For his part, Mr. Adonis C. Castro, a licensed SPED teacher, shared that his part is centered on the education of students with special needs in way that addresses their individual differences and needs. To achieve this goal, he designs an Individualized Education Program to help learners with special needs to achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and their community.
Ms. Donna Belle Mante, a registered social worker and OIC of STAC-Bohol, articulated that any intervention program will hardly work if the social component is not addressed. Social workers are responsible in improving the quality of life and wellbeing of children with special needs by ensuring social welfare and security for them. Social workers collaborate with parents, the community, the government and non-government entities, and other allied professionals to address specific needs of their clients.
There were other invited speakers who were not able to attend due to equally important engagements. But the gathering was a great start for future collaboration and interdisciplinary team approach. One can hope that the services provided to children with disabilities and special needs will not only be scientific but most of all holistic and effective, considering all aspects of concern and functioning, with our competent professionals helping each other help the needy.
P.S. For consultation you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at 09177201218. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)