Globilizing occupational therapy: bridging gaps in the pediatric care of the Dominican Republic through education in school-based occupational therapy practice
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In the past, many measures have been taken in the Dominican Republic to address the functional outcomes of a school-aged child with a disability. However, none of these measures have explored or addressed function within context. Under the current paradigm used in the Dominican Republic, similar to the medical model, provision of therapy services in the Dominican Republic would be designed to remain outside of the educational context. The Centro de Atencion Integral Para la Discapacidad (CAID), a government initiative set by the first lady of the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Association of Rehabilitation (ADR), a pioneer non-profit organization, are the first organizations to offer comprehensive rehabilitative services and treatment for children with disabilities. The services delivery model used in the ADR removes the child from their natural school environment (M. Paniaguas, personal communication, July 17, 2014). This is further impacted by a lack of professional training to enable practitioners to treat children in context (M. Paniaguas, personal communication, July 17, 2014), making occupational therapy service provision (or any other related service) in schools virtually non-existent (M. Paniaguas, personal communication, July 17, 2014). Educational inclusion is presented as a goal. The availability of continuing professional education is presented as a solution to the problem. Many factors affecting the implementation of inclusion in developing countries are explored. The recommendation is given for a training/certificate program focused on the inclusion framework. The design is developed and catered to aid in enabling occupational therapists in the DR with skillsets in three major areas: standardized evaluations, service delivery, and ongoing staff development and training. Recommendations are to deliver the program through three one-week courses. The theory is that post-professional training closes gaps in the pediatric care of the Dominican Republic and shifts how occupational therapy services are delivered by Dominican occupational therapists in the Dominican Republic.