By: Jennifer Coffey 

I have always wanted to combine my skills and expertise as a Speech Language Pathologist, my passion for working with children with autism and their families, and my love for traveling. Enter the Global Autism Project and SkillsCorp! 

I travelled to Bangalore, India to work at ASHA, a school for children with Autism, and their Early Intervention program. India is a country with over 1,600 different languages and dialects, and is culturally very different than what I am used to as an SLP in Hillsboro, Oregon. I spent this morning with Vibha, a Speech Language Pathologist who works with the early intervention team. 

Vibha talked about her main goal in early intervention is to empower moms that they are their child’s best teacher. One thing Vibha is focusing on with families is to use pictures to help children learn directions, follow routines, and request. As many of the families in the EI program come from low-resource backgrounds, Vibha works to provide low resource options for making materials. For example, instead of printing off pictures to use, Vibha encourages families to cut out pictures of magazines, keep old food packages, etc to use as pictures for requesting and labeling items. 

Vibha also expressed her difficulties in getting “buy-in” from parents as to  embedding communication into routines, and that working on communication doesn’t have to be during a structured time. She is also working towards increasing understanding of autism, helping parents cope with the diagnosis, and become empowered to help their children reach their potential. 

My morning spent with Vibha showed me how much more alike our experiences and careers are than they are different. I am so excited to continue my work with her over the next week, and continue to collaborate and learn from her!