Nov 02, 2014
Twelve-year-old Ling is intelligent and expressive, joking that he has “too many friends” at school. Influenced by his father’s job as a carpenter, he dreams of becoming an architect.
Not long ago, “no one thought Ling would be able to go to school,” says Chea Phearom, Ling’s disability worker.
Ling has cerebral palsy, brain damage that occurs in a young brain around the time of birth. As a result, it is more difficult for him to control his movement, and his speech is slurred.
Ling started working with Phearom about five years ago, and the change since then has been transformational. Where previously no one could understand him, and many in the community thought he was stupid, he can now communicate with those around him.
His movement has improved as well. He goes to school by himself, riding his bicycle. As his family now understands that he only has problems communicating, they no longer label him “stupid.”
“He communicates much better than before,” says Ling’s father. “We didn’t feel happy before, but now we feel happy.”
“Before, I could understand others,” Ling says. “Now, sometimes they can understand me.”
Getting Ling to go to school was not easy. Phearom brought the school and Ling’s family together to discuss him attending school.
At first, teachers found it difficult to understand what Ling was saying and did not know how to provide him with the support he needed.
Phearom worked with the teachers to explain how to best communicate with Ling, and now Ling says the teacher at school is good at listening to him.
Phearom has also helped Ling find strategies to communicate when people can’t understand what he is saying. “My classmates understand some of the words I say, but not all. When they don’t understand, I use body language,” Ling explains.
As Ling’s verbal communication improves, written communication is the next priority in his therapy. “We will improve Ling’s writing,” Phearom says. “Ling has a great attitude. He tries very hard.”
Ling’s effort is paying off. Not only does he attend school, but he’s also ranked second in his class – an amazing accomplishment for someone who was unable to attend school only a few years ago.
Category: Field Story
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