Diversity, Equity, & Early Intervention

Welcome back to another feature in my Diversity, Culture, & Equity series that is highlighting various speech/language pathologists, allied health professionals, and community supporters of children and families. It truly takes a team of service providers so that children with special needs can learn and thrive. Today’s feature focuses on the significance of early intervention for birth-3 year old children in the areas of speech, language, and feeding therapy. It is imperative that they have access to essential pediatric evaluations and therapy services. In early intervention, a family and caregiver centered approach is key to successful therapeutic services. When children receive effective services early on, they will be able to acquire functional skills that will increase their readiness for preschool and kindergarten.

On May 19th, I had the pleasure of speaking with Shareka Bentham, a speech language pathologist, Clinic Director, and owner of Easyspeak Enterprises in Barbados. For the past 11 years, she has successfully provided valuable services to children and families in her Caribbean community. She completed her graduate training in speech language pathology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand where she earned her Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Therapy. She is a registered member of the New Zealand Speech Therapy Association as well as an International Affiliate with the American Speech Language Hearing Association. While in New Zealand, she had the opportunity to develop her skills providing culturally responsive assessments and intervention with diverse clients including various Pacific Islander families. Since that time, she has adapted strategies learned so that they are beneficial when working with clients in Barbados.

During the interview, she shares how her team advocates for early intervention services for children with potential speech/language delay or communication, language, and feeding therapy needs. In Barbados, there are very few speech language pathologists. Therefore, community education is key so that others can understand the types of services therapists in her clinic may provide. She discusses how she raises awareness about essential speech/language therapy services. Additionally, Shareka shares the importance of parent coaching to ensure increased practice opportunities to build skills and helpful strategies from the Hanen “It Takes Two to Talk” program. She previously received Hanen training, SOS Approach to Feeding, and is Level I Prompt trained.

Her clinic also provides teletherapy services to children in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos, and other islands in the Caribbean. You’ll learn about what types of communication disorders and clients responded well to teletherapy services during this pandemic season and how it can help children generalize communication skills. She discusses tips for other speech/language pathologists to implement to ensure that they are providing equitable and culturally responsive services. You may watch the interview here and learn about Shareka Bentham’s clinic here.

If you have questions about your child’s speech/language development, you can contact me for more information. Access a complimentary resource guide with communication success tips for children 12-36 months. You may also learn more information from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Education Specialist & Consultant
Diversity & Equity Advocate

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