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Coronavirus: speech therapists say restrictions affecting work with younger children

The association of registered speech, language pathologists (SLP) on Tuesday said the way speech therapy was provided during lockdown violates their human rights and the rights of children.

In a written statement, speech SLPs called on the education ministry to allow them to provide face-to-face private lessons to primary school children instead of online sessions as they do not have the necessary infrastructure and equipment.

The sessions will be private and only for the most serious cases and younger children. Appointments will be scheduled at a specific hour, while all the necessary health protocols (face mask, gloves, social distancing) will be applied, the association said.

“The re-evaluation of the objectives in the individualised training programs (ITP) which takes place at the end of January, will not be possible, nor the evaluation of new cases awaiting a decision by the district committee of special education and training resulting in the violation of children’s rights,” it added.

They also requested the education ministry upgrade the classrooms so they can properly continue their sessions.

Citing a survey carried out by the association, they said that more than half, about 64 per cent of the professionals working in primary schools, lack the necessary infrastructure. While 24 per cent said they do not have the appropriate computer.

Another problem is the pressure from headteachers to upload online material during the first and the current lockdown.

“This decision is problematic since the material is copyrighted and not their property, but even if it belongs to them, this material should be used by trained individuals, otherwise it is just a booklet,” explained the association.

Moreover, the material will be general and not tailored to the needs of every student.

Hence, the association also requested the formation of a group of speech therapists who will work on creating specialised material which will be used by the therapists themselves.

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