Aquatic therapy and access to a sensory room will soon be available for children living with disabilities, Coordinator of the Regional Special Education Needs/Disability Diagnostic and Treatment Centre Keon Cheong has said.

Cheong during the Ministry of Education’s Spotlight programme on Wednesday announced that these additional services are expected in the new year with the completion of ongoing works at the facility located within the compound of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.

“Construction is on going for a ‘low’ sensory room. The construction of the aquatic pool  is expected to commence in the new year. These two initiatives will add to the list of services currently being offered at the facility.  Both the low sensory room and aquatic pool will service individuals on the spectrum and those with behavioral issues,” Cheong explained.

Further, he noted that currently  the services offered by the Centre include speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychosocial support (parents and children), early stimulation (primarily for those on the spectrum and sever cases) and most importantly psycho-education evaluations. The reports from the evaluations paves the way for the creation of individual education plans (IEP). The services offered depends on the individual and reason for accessing services.

Cheong explained that the that the centre gets referrals from several places; Georgetown Public Hospital, private doctors, NGOs, schools, Officers (SEN) and other organizations. In other cases, persons access the Centre via walk-in.

Referrals from the school system are received from head teachers and teachers, who after careful observation identify children with learning challenges. Once identified the headteachers make recommendations for those persons to be assessed.

Importantly, he noted that the unit intends to expand its range by having teachers equipped with the necessary tools to identify and create interventions that will assist children with learning disabilities.

Already teachers are receiving this training but he said, “Today teachers who have been engaged in ongoing assessment and observing the children and monitoring their progress have been able to identify or recommend that, okay this child is not performing at Grade level and in school. He or she should be screened.”

“But more structured than that is a screening package we are going to be launching soon sometime in the New Year where teachers can be trained on how to use the screening package so now, we have an instrument to really guide them.”

In the meantime, the unit is continuing its outreaches where staff goes into regions and conduct assessment with students at different schools to identify what the challenges and or causes that hinder academic performance.