Monday, June 30, 2014

India: Behind the scenes with Beth

 From Beth's perspective: 

"As a volunteer field educator for The SPOON Foundation, I went to India to teach orphanage caregivers the most optimal feeding practices to use with special needs children.. I was in two cities Pune and Bangalore. I conducted 2-3 day seminars with practicums at 4 sites. In general the information was received well and the lead caregivers were extremely optimistic about training those in the “trenches” on the new techniques and philosophy. The most challenging feature of the project was undoing the feeding practices that had been used for years. Typically special needs children are feed on the floor in a supine position, with the caregiver positioned behind the child’s head. The spoon that is generally used is larger than a tablespoon, and the consistency of the food is pureed. This feeding technique has resulted in  decreased intake, choking, aspiration, frequent pneumonia and even death in children living without permanent homes. The rate of malnutrition of children in institutions in India is also very high. The caregivers who feed these children are typically very well intended, however, due to the number of children and the schedule of meals, they are very rushed and mechanical in the task. It is common for one caregiver to be responsible for feeding up to 5-8 children within the one designated meal hour. The resources including input from trained therapists or the availability  of appropriate adaptive equipment and seating is very limited. Subsequently children are fed in a very unsafe, unengaged manner. Observing these feeding practices was heartbreaking and truly very hard to observe. I gently guided the caregivers to adjust their positions, utilize what little seating they have and engage in responsive feeding practices.  Besides getting the proper nutrition, meal times are typically happy interactive times with family, friends or coworkers. I thoroughly enjoy a long protracted meal at the table with my family, connecting and catching up with one another. These children never have this type of experience. How incredibly sad."

                                                                      -- Beth Williamson, Clinical Director

Beth hopes to return to India by the end of the year. Stay tuned for more updates and adventures as they come.

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