Lorna Muthamia-Ochido, making a difference through speech therapy

“My name is Lorna Muthamia- Ochido,  I am a  Speech Therapist and passionate about encouraging parents in molding their children in the early years  in setting a foundation that ensures their children can be the best they can be .

I founded the Centre for Child Development and Education back in 2010 and am currently the co-Director of the organization. I have enjoyed an exciting and successful career in speech therapy in New Zealand, Australia and currently here in Kenya.

I have worked in a variety of settings including: hospitals, adult rehabilitation centers, mainstream schools and private clinics and gained a depth of experience in both pediatrics and adult populations with a range of disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Severe Language Delay, Articulation Disorder, Literacy and Phonological Disorders, Dysphasia, Dysarthria, Dysphagia, etc.)

Speech therapists complete a degree at university, which encompasses all aspects of communication including speech (mechanics of producing words e.g. articulation/pronunciation, pitch, fluency/stammering and volume), language (comprehension and expression) and literacy (writing, reading, etc.) Speech therapists also work with people who have difficulties swallowing food and drink. A speech therapist is sometimes called a speech pathologist or speech and language therapist/pathologist.

When I was growing up, I witnessed the difficulty my parents were faced with accessing services of a speechie when my youngest sister was diagnosed with a hearing impairment. Back then (approx. 15 years ago), there was 1 or 2 speechies in Nairobi and because we lived in Mombasa, that would have meant part of the family having to relocate to Nairobi and that was if my parents could even sustain the cost of prolonged speech therapy services necessary to realize benefits for my sister. This inspired is what inspired me to become a speech therapist.

Quite simply, I work to improve outcomes (academic, social, literacy, etc.) for children as well as their overall communication skills.

With adults, I aim to improve their communication (speaking skills, presentation skills, pronunciation, etc.) so that they can fully exploit their potential.

 LornachildEffective communication skills are vital for healthy work/personal relationships and inadequate communication can be debilitating.  If a child is unable to make simple requests or express dissatisfaction, , he/she may lash out at his peers, develop challenging behaviour, etc.  For instance, if through what I do, I can teach the child to say “no” when he encounters something unpleasant, this will eliminate the need for him to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t have his way for instance.

Similarly, there may be adults who are unfulfilled in their jobs because they always seem to get passed up for promotions at work because perhaps they have poor interview skills or are passive communicators.

My journey as an entrepreneur has had its highs and lows it has definitely not been smooth sailing. Being an entrepreneur in itself can be emotionally turbulent without considering in my case, I have been a pioneer of sorts because there are less than 10 speech therapists in the country.

The highs have been to watch my organization grow to the extent that it has today. It is humbling to think we’re able to offer hope to over 500 clients every months and reach many more children through the training we offer to eager teachers. The lows are just as many. Being a pioneer means most times you’re travelling in unchartered waters, having to juggle many roles and being faced with many setbacks. In the end though, I believe it will all be worth it and I will be much the wiser. I like to look at it as learning that is grounded in reality.

 More than you could imagine. Our name can be a little deceptive though. Children needing speech therapy don’t necessarily have a difficulty speaking, but may have any of the issues speech therapists remediate, i.e. reading difficulties, learning issues, etc. And to put it in perspective, in most countries, there is a shortage of speechies. For instance, in the UK, there are over 14,000 speechies, in America, over 100,00 speechies and in Australia, over 5000 speechies and in all these countries, there is a shortage of them. Most schools in the developed countries have at least 1 in-house speech therapist. The demand is an indication of the need.

For parents , there are many ways you can help your child’s speech develop,  but it all begins with being well informed about what to expect at the different stages of development, what contributes to children’s growth (mental, social, etc.) and being conscious with the choices we make as parents when it comes to our children.

Other than individual speech therapy sessions, we offer many other services, which you can peruse here: http://www.ccde.co.ke/brochure/

So what does it take to succeed as a speech therapist?

The generic qualities of being good speech therapist are:

–        Being patient and a people- person

–        Having good listening and communication skills

–        Being able to work with people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles

–        Enjoying solving problems

–        Having an interest in being part of a dynamic, rapidly developing profession which draws on

science, education and medicine

–        Being able to work as part of a team

 Obviously, in order to succeed as a speechie, one needs to have the passion, creativity, drive and resilience.

Balancing motherhood and my passion has not been easy. What has made it somewhat manageable to juggle all my roles is I love what I do, I try to set clear goals and have good support. I have to work really hard to make sure I manage my time effectively. I have set very explicit goals for myself and defined steps to reach them. I try to apportion time towards fulfilling these goals and I have to be very disciplined so as not to get side-tracked. Of course it’s normal to get side-tracked from time to time, I should know that; I am a mother. I make sure I set short-term goals, review them from time to time and hopefully remain motivated throughout.

I also would not be able to do all what I do without the help of not only my family but also my wonderful staff, starting with my house staff (our dedicated house help and our passionate nanny) and my office team, who help me actualize my dreams and who each pitch in to do their bit. I would not be able to do all what I am doing without them and without my very supportive husband and partner, whose words of encouragement echo in my ears each day.

Lorna is passionate about children in general and passionately engages people on issues relating to child development and making the early years count. She is equally passionate about improving literacy outcomes for children and early detection for early intervention. Lorna, a self-proclaimed teacher has the ability to simplify even the most obscure concepts for people, particularly children to understand. She is a wife and a mother, with an infectious joy for life.

For more information on Lorna Muthamia- Ochido  or the CCDE Speech Therapy and other services.

Visit: www.ccde.co.ke

Email: lorna.muthamia@ccde.co.ke


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