With a growing interest in early intervention therapies, Rhana recently took on a new position at a specialist clinic working specifically with children with autism aged two to six years old, also based in Townsville.
We work with the children intensively for five days a week, in a sort of childcare learning centre environment, for a large period throughout the day. My role as a speech pathologist is to help these children to develop a functional communication system.
Often children with autism have difficulty expressing their wants, thoughts and feelings, which is incredibly hard for families. Some of the children may even have no or minimal verbal language. But autism is diverse, so we also see children that are able to say a lot verbally, but they might have trouble communicating to people within a social context.
Helping kids to be able to say things and express their feelings and needs is just so rewarding. There are some really special moments, like when a mum cries after hearing her daughter say the word ‘mum’ for the first time and tells you how thankful she is for the work you are doing.
Communication is also the foundation of making relationships which in turn means you are then able to live a functional life. I work as part of a multidisciplinary team comprising of an occupational therapist and a behavior therapist, who further assist the children to achieve life skills.
"The work of a speech pathologist is amazing as you really get to see how what you do impacts on people's lives. I'm still learning every day how important the profession of speech pathology is."
JCU Alumni Rhana Gelens