What started off as a frustrated mother trying to find the special care for her two-year-old daughter diagnosed with profound hearing loss, has turned into Kalimati or ‘my words’. It is a one-of-its kind speech and communication center, which has an intake of of 35 children every year.
After a long search for a place that would cater to the needs of her daughter, Bedour Saeed Al Raqbani, director and founder of Kalimati decided to create that place for her daughter and other children with similar needs.
The center, which was established in October 2010, provides children as young as the age of two with specialised speech therapy sessions.
The cases of children vary between profound hearing loss, slight hearing problems, language delay and mild cases of Down syndrome and autism.
Initially, a child is brought in by his or her parents for an assessment that is done by one of the specialists at the center. Following that, a development plan is created.
Cases that require a different kind of treatment or a specific kind of care are transferred to external doctors or clinics, while the cases that can be improved within the center are monitored by one of the specialists, who usually does that through coordination with the child’s parents, audiologist and school.
As soon as a plan is set for the child, he or she comes in for one-hour evening sessions on an average of twice a week.
Parents are also required to attend therapy sessions in order to guage the development of their children and to apply the learning to the child’s daily activities outside the classroom.
Taking care of a child with special needs requires skill, education and dedication.
“I’ve never woken up in the morning and felt that I was going to work. I love doing this and find it purposeful and rewarding,” Sabine Al Deek, the technical manager and speech and language therapist at the center, told Gulf News.
The games and fun-based way of learning and the warmth of the staff makes it easier for children to form a bond.
“Countless things make me love this job. The fact that some parents tell me that their children start smiling once they recognise the roundabout that’s near the center is priceless,” she added.
Beside speech therapy classes, the center aims to raise awareness in the country on the issue of hearing loss.
The center works hard to raise awareness. One of the recent initiatives, that was a huge success for the facility was the Hear My Voice conference, attended by more than 300 people of different nationalities to share knowledge and experiences within the field.
They also offer a sign language course, open to all, every Saturday. For more on the center’s activities, you can follow them on twitter @kalimatispeech.