|On a recent trip to Antigua, Tiffan Erler, owner of Budding Voices, LLC, recently participated in training for a private school on the island. Learn about her experience below.
I had the pleasure of working with Crystal of Imagine Wellness to provide staff and family training at The Victory Center, a local school for children with special needs in Antigua. We wanted to do this training for a number of reasons: 1) there is one (ONE) speech-language pathologist on the entire island, 2) there are 0 (ZERO) behavior analysts, 3) the same prevalence of ASD (1 in every 59 children) applies to the approximate population of 80,000 people, 4) there are very few resources available to families with special needs (schools, doctors, therapists), and 5) the resources that do exist are very expensive and are NOT accessible to the majority of the population.
The experience was amazing in so many ways. We only got to meet 2 students, as schools were out for the summer. First, I was honored to be sharing my experience with a staff that showed the same love and dedication to child with special needs as myself. They have such limited resources. The people of Antigua are not generally wealthy. The schools do not get nearly as much government funding as we are accustomed to here. Children with special needs have even less funding and options in terms of education and therapy. The majority of the “therapy” lies on the shoulders of the school staff and the families. Unfortunately, neither have the background, training, or experience to deliver the quality evidence-based service we are lucky to have here in the US. I was humbled by the school. It is housed in a small older building that resembled a 5 bedroom house with a paved courtyard. 3 classrooms. 1 office. Kitchenette. Bathroom. Closet. No air conditioning. And yet, they go to work every day and do incredible things for 25 children who have no other place to go. If a child doesn’t go to The Victory Center, the only other special needs school is the school for the deaf. Both schools have children with a wide range of disabilities, from ASD to Down Syndrome, ADHD to Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and everything in between. During my time with the staff and families, I felt so thankful and full of hope. It was fun and engaging. Both Crystal and I have an immense passion for our jobs and we are so grateful for the opportunity to support The Victory Center and its community.
We made lasting connections with the staff and families. We plan to continue to be accessible to them while they navigate the behavior management and speech-language development needs of their students. With any luck, we will return during the school year. This will allow us to offer more hands-on training for the staff and conduct parent-training.
If you have any questions about The Victory Center or my experience in Antigua, please do not hesitate to ask.
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Budding Voices, LLC believes that every child deserves an opportunity to unlock his or her voice. Our mission is to provide individualized therapy to each client. We strive to include the whole family in our treatment approach.
Tiffany Erler, MS, CCC-SLP ~ Tiffany is our founder and CEO. After receiving her Masters in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola College in Maryland in 2007, she completed a clinical fellowship year at the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Autism and Related Disorders. Tiffany remained on staff at CARD through 2010. She participated in multi-disciplinary teams focused on identifying children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and providing individualized treatment. She then lived and worked in Sydney Australia for 4 years. During her time there, Tiffany continued to work with children with ASD at the largest Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and early intervention centre in the country. Tiffany's areas of expertise and special interests include autism spectrum disorders, apraxia, and augmentative-alternative communication. Tiffany is trained in PECS, PROMPT, and ABA. She has treated children of all ages with a wide variety of abilities and diagnoses. Tiffany is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and holds a MD License. She received an ACE award in 2017 for her commitment to lifelong learning by earning over 70 hours of continuing education.