By Reyhaneh Rajabzadeh, Speech-Language Pathologist
I started studying speech-language therapy seven years ago in the interest of serving individuals living in underdeveloped and underrepresented areas. There is a dearth of services for individuals with special needs in most parts of the world. While some countries are rich in accessible resources and services, others are lacking even basic support services that would dramatically improve the lives of many.
Having been born in Iran, but educated in the United States, I have witnessed first-hand such disparity in resources solely due to socio-economic differences, geographical location, and infrastructure. Ultimately, the dark reality is that if society doesn’t offer support, individuals with any kind of special needs are often isolated in their homes, unable to channel their strengths, build relationships, and contribute to society. This is solely because there is no system that will educate individuals on how to communicate with and involve individuals with special needs..
This, ultimately, drove my decision to live and work in China. The past two years I’ve been with The Essential Learning Group, I have discovered that there is an incredibly high demand for speech and language therapy within local and international populations, but very few skilled professionals who can offer appropriate services. So while the majority of my time spent at work has been dedicated to serving individual families and clients, I have also continued to focus on training individuals in the community and spreading awareness on how to build a strong system of support.
This year, our team is experiencing a significant growth in training opportunities and we are being called upon on by more and more schools and institutions to educate and spread awareness. This is incredibly exciting for the future of special services within China, as it only shows that we can all help build a sustainable foundation of support and more individuals will be empowered to do so.
This year, I am also serving populations in nearby areas such as Wuxi, Suzhou, and Tsingtao where there are no active speech language pathologists. With the start of ELG’s sister NGO, Xiersen, there are limitless opportunities on the horizon to venture out into more rural areas of China and train local groups to support their children and adults with special needs.
Now entering my third year of work in China, I am sensing that this year is the start of a new era where some of my early dreams about being a speech-language pathologist who serves the underrepresented are becoming a reality, and that China’s overall landscape is shifting towards increased awareness and receptiveness towards supporting individuals with special needs.
To enquire about services in Shanghai and Greater China, please call +86 4006 129 423 or +86 21 5206 6273 or email [email protected].