Lisa Scharf, a Malki Foundation Therapist on Wheels speech therapist works with Dror and other children in the south of Israel. This week, she spoke to us about her work. “My method is different from many other therapists. Normally professionals treat their patients, but I believe we should work with all the family. It is more complex, but also more realistic and effective”.
According to Lisa, the home treatment enables the therapist to understand more about the family’s life and relationships, creating a session that best fits with their conditions and needs. Additionally, this process empowers the parents by teaching them ways to stimulate their child and continue the therapy in between sessions.
Lisa also explained that her job is not only about speech but communication in general. In some cases, children will not learn how to say words but will learn to communicate with Assistive and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices. The most important thing is to give the child “a way to understand and be understood, to communicate with the people around them and impact their world. The younger we start working with the child and AAC the better results we get, and we see the child being able to interact with the world around. And sometimes it even leads to actual speech.”
Speaking about her work with Dror, Lisa shared her first impressions. “On my first visit to Dror’s kindergarten, all the teachers and assistants told me that he didn’t understand anything that was said to him and was incapable of using a computer for communication. I knew they were wrong. I could see that Dror understood and that all he needed was encouragement and the patience to teach how to use the device.” After months of both speech and occupational therapy (to improve his finger control and pointing), Dror uses his computer to communicate his needs, wants and feelings, and is even beginning to say a few words.
Treating children with such complex needs, takes a special type of person. Lisa saw it as her calling from a young age, and till today has a special connection with the children she has treated. She makes sure to check in with the families from time to time to hear about the child’s progress, even years after her involvement has finished. Therapists like Lisa, and families like Dror’s inspire us each day to work that little bit harder to build a better world in which all children will be given the same opportunity as Dror.