Sunday, July 26, 2009

more Granada, Nicaragua pics

You can see the flights of stairs I took on the way down. Sorry, they are a little blurry.

Pics from Granada, Nicaragua

Beautiful City! The first pic is Dr. Bleile (Professor in Iowa) and his daughter Judy looking at pottery. The other pics are of the gorgeous city. It is quaint and small, but it has a lot of character. A couple of us went to the cathedral...all the way up to the bell Tower. It was about 12 flights of steep stairs to reach the top.

another hearing screen!

Kevin, Moses, and staffing

The two children you see are Kevin and Moses. Both have Autism. The other pics are me working/educating the teachers and parents.

Conducting a hearing screening in Leon, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is great. I am staying at an employee of the US embassy's home. The employee lives close to the Hondurian Embassy. We even saw the Hondurian President right outside our front door on his way back to his country! Crazy, huh? There were police and cameras everywhere...No other crowd...just the people I am staying with, police, and camera crews!

There were about 28 speech and social work students and two professors from Iowa who came on this Nicaragua trip. Everyone was super genuine and really easy to work with. In the end, we identified 3 people with hearing loss (not related to a cold or cerumen) who will need hearing aids. The other kids with temporary hearing loss due to ear infections and wax were referred to their local hospital for follow-up. I tested about 64 people all together. There is an audiologist in Durango, CO, Dr. Chandace Jeep, who will donate hearing aids. She also lent us her OAE machine to take on the trip. Thanks, Chandace!!!

The children I worked with in March who have autism have made great strides. The teachers really took everything we said to heart, and they have implemented new programs for more "Floortime-play" type activities.

more hogan pics (oh and I threw in Nick and I holding up our marriage license in WY!)

Navajo Indian Reservation

Few pics of a "hogan" on the Indian Reservation I work on. The homes were made out of mud at one time, but has since been made of logs.

Monday, March 30, 2009


  • Countries Visited: 3 (Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua)
  • Children I Served: 40 hearing screenings, 11 children with autism, 1 hearing impaired child already diagnosed, 1 child with down syndrome, 2 children with developmental apraxia, and 4 children with various syndromes. Another group completed hearing screenings on at least 80 children:)
  • Progress made: 38 children newly referred for hearing loss, 9 children with articulation improvements, 11 children working on imaginary play and parents working on improving play practices at home to facilitate cognitive function (thanks to Dr. Cyndi Randall for your advice on RDI treatment for children with autism), increased communication for 1 hearing impaired child using total communication, and 18 children now working on sensory integration techniques with their parents.
  • Days of fun aside from volunteering: 3 total- one day on a beach, one visiting a volcano, and one on a coffee tour.
  • Total days of volunteering: 18 days
  • New friends: 26 parents, 3 doctors, and 8 other professionals.
  • Last comment: I am tired but rejuvenated at the same time:)
  • Value of Trip: PRICELESS!!!!!

PS- More pics will be posted soon:)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Almost over

The volunteering has officially ended. We will be going back to the states tomorrow. We went to a beach today to finally relax:) The beach was a volcanic sand beach with pretty dark colors in the sand. Even the crabs were dark colored! The bus ride back to San Jose was absolutely gorgeous. We drove through the mountainous regions. I saw two huge iguanas today on a hike. I also made more volunteer contacts with the locals who knew of special schools in the area. One waiter was so touched that he gave us free drinks. He said, "this is a small present for helping the children of my country". I told him that we were blessed for doing it. I had made many new friends on this trip....truly worth it. I will email more pics when I get back to the states. I have an overnight layover in Dallas, but I will email you guys again soon:)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Sorry guys, there are only four pics (two from the beginning of the trip).  Waiting for someone to email me the pics from our Costa Rica schools since I had so much trouble with my camera.   We went to Arenal Volcano on the way out of the Costa Rica.  We sat in the hotsprings which was extremely soothing.   We had to catch a 4am shuttle to do so, but it was worth it!  I have been extremely busy, and really needed it.  

 In Nicaragua now.  It is beautiful.  The culture is amazing.  Lauren and I are staying with a host family while helping their child with her speech.  I went to a school today to complete hearing screenings and do therapy on two children with autism.  I am thinking of returning in July to follow up with failed hearing screenings.  

Today, we heard an announcement in the street.  It was a guy on a loud speaker advertising broken equipment of all sorts.  "Buy it, fix it, and sell it."  It was funny!.....A garage sale on wheels!  LOL!      Also toured "Volcano Masaya".  There was a deep crater.  You couldn't see the bottom!  

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I finally have a break! Lauren comes tomorrow and I had off today and tomorrow. Then off to traveling and volunteering again. I fed a turtle bread today! It was cute. Went to a coffe tour at Cafe Britt. They put on a funny show for us, and we toured the coffee fields in their city. It was incredible. I had to buy a bag and some chocolate covered beans, because everything tasted great! I really learned a lot about coffee. Off to eat with some peeps I met here later this evening. You guys are's a little complicated posting, but I have appreciated your comments to my hotmail account:) I think you have to sign up for a user ID or ''follow me'' to post something. Maybe press the "follow me'' link and see if that works.....or send comments to my email.

Friday, March 20, 2009

hearing screenings, hearing screenings, and more hearing screenings!!!

We did so many hearing screenings at a nearby school today...We had 71 passes and 23 referrals! The children were extremely well-behaved. The staff were so grateful to have their ears checked because it is very expensive for them to do so on their own. A SLP professor, Susan Lenihan, went to speak to the minister of health to advocate for the implementation of other audiology/speech type services for Costa Rican children. We are hoping the universal newborn screenings will happen soon here! Then we went to a gellato place....YUM!!!! It was the equivalent of Creole Creamery, but gellato! So many flavors! Trying to visit a teacher by herself tomorrow to go over some autism DIR/Floortime strategies. I will have a short break (1 day) when Lauren gets here on Monday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

no pics:(

Sorry camera can not be downloaded here because the hostel doesn't let you download on their computers:( So no pics for a while. Today, I went to another Deaf school with children with Cochlear Implants. It's an auditory-oral school. The teachers were really nice, and then we visited the hospital. The therapists there are great! It was interesting seeing how they do things here. For one, you can only get services through the hospital if you are twelve and over. Before then, you can see a therapist in the school system, but they are rare.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Around San Jose

Today didn't go as planned. See why below on my previous comment. Anyway, I was solo today, hence, I spent the day running errands and caught up on paperwork from the states. I went to the ticabus (sort of like "greyhound bus" but their logo is a!) terminal to buy my ticket for Nicaragua. I couldn't do so, because I needed Lauren's (friend from NOLA) passport number so I could purchase her ticket. The local bus experience was terrific. It is really organized. Everyone stands in a long line and waits their turn. I kept thinking, "this couldn't fly in NOLA". People would be cutting in line. The people here are very nice and cordial. I then went to a local school to find out how they manage their special needs children. They are doing a good job. There seems to be a therapist coming in twice a week to help with the special needs children. Here in the university, there are speech therapy classes lumped into a special eucation curriculumn. They need more help with specialized services, though. I gave the teachers my email address in case they had any questions or needed resources.

Let me tell you about the ''complimentary'' breakfast here at the hostel. It is hillarious! The first day I was here, I was excited about breakfast. There was nothing at the front of the building so I asked them at the front desk if there was any breakfast. The gentleman said ''of course'' and handed me a tupperware container with two raw eggs, bread, and butter. He then pointed me in the direction of the kitchen. Isn't that great? Oh well, I can't complain....I am only spending $12/night! Today, I went to a restaurant called "Ristopollo''. It's a chicken place that is yummy! I had refried beans with fluffy chips and cheese, , 3 toquitos, salad, avocado, platanos, water, cheesecake, coffee, and a beer - all for less than $9. What a bargain!

I will be going with the group to another school in the morning, and then to a hospital. I went to visit the hospital yesterday. the speech therapists and audiologists were really sweet. They wanted to learn more about cochlear implants and swallowing. Then we go to another school on Friday to do lots of hearing screenings. Saturday we are going sight-seeing, and Lauren comes on Sunday. I am trying to plan something special for Lauren since she has been so sweet enough to join me. I didn't want to ride the Ticabus alone to Nicaragua for safety reasons. She is a great sport:) We leave Costa Rica on Monday and then off to Nicaragua for two days. In Nicaragua, there is a family associated with the U.S. embassy who will be hosting us. I will do therapy with their young daughter, and then spend a half day at a special needs school the next day doing hearing screenings and therapy. Then we come back to fly out of Costa Rica. I will not be home until March 29th.

PS- If my spelling or the punctuation (especially quotes/apostrophes) are off, it's because the keyboard is completely different. It is driving me nuts!


Some of you have asked me how to post. It''s really simple: 1.) click on the "comments" section under my post; 2) post your thoughts/comments; 3) they may ask for a user name...I just put my email address so I wouldn't forget it. That's it:) Then after you do this once, all you need to do is click on "comments'' and post:)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deaf School in Costa Rica

Words can not truly express what I have learned today. It is so exciting to be here! Costa Rica just received approval to start newborn hearing screenings! The speech therapist helping on this trip, Susan Lenihan, is an amazing verbal therapist. She does so much with these kids. I have met interesting people here. The weather is colder than expected and really windy. The trees are beautiful. The people are dear. There is one bilateral cochlear implant. Most of the schools are signing schools. Mostly same signs as ASL with some variances....well maybe a little more than "some" variances. I guess I will post pics tomorrow. I am just really exhausted right now. The pineapple here is absolutely the best pineapple I have ever tasted in my entire life!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Costa Rica

Now I am in Costa Rica...the trip was hard!!!! American Airlines made me go back to the states first. If not, I would have had to cough up $700 bones! Anyway, I left Puerto Vallarta yesterday (3/15) at 4:20pm, and now I am FINALLY in Costa Rica. There is a Deaf school here, so I would like to do some aural rehabilitation. However, there are 400 students to be screened (hearing screenings), hence, I do not know if it is possible to go there. The screenings are to take place in all the surrounding poorer neighborhoods. Will keep you posted! Thanks for the comments. They make me feel like I am not alone here:) It's nice to experience all this, and then share with you as soon as I get to homebase.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Autism Clinic Puerto Vallarta

Okay's been crazy!!! I am so exhausted! Pictures to come tonight. The autism clinic I am working in is great. The kids are receptive as well as the parents. The other therapists (they are psychology graduates here) are maliable and ask many questions. Most of the parents needed advice on sensory stimulation. Some kids are talking better...yay!!! Really need some audiology folks to join me next time...hint. hint. There are so many needs. There is also a Deaf school. How can I entice you? I went to "Barcelona" restaurant last night, and the food was delicious with a fabulous view of the ocean. My host family lives on the beach, and I saw whales for the first time in my life!!!! Is that enticing enough? Not to mention, this work is rewarding! Two families drove four hours round-trip just to receive therapy for three days straight! So, when are you all coming? Oh and BTW- feel free to add your name to the blog, so you can post messages. My hotmail account is getting full of messages with your responses and none on here. LOL! Don't be afraid to blog!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I am here!!!!!

I am here!!!! The host family I am staying with are super kind. They have a jammed pack schedule for me....9 hours a day working with 7 children with autism, one child who stutters, and a hearing impaired child...All for three days and one half day the day I leave!! Check out the pic of my room. Everyone here in Mexico is so warm and friendly!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hi guys!

This is my very first blog, and I am probably not going to get all fancy with it. There's just no time:( I am creating this blog simply to download my speech and audiology volunteer photos so you can travel around Central America with me!!! I am leaving on March 11th....just two days!!!!! I will try my best to post regularly, but I do not know how often I will get internet access. Can't wait!!!!