No hablo inglés: Helping Spanish-speaking families with special needs

June 6, 2011

Buenos días. Gracias por llamar al Kennedy Krieger Institute. ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar?

If the line of text above is confusing, imagine living in a world where every word, every conversation is a mystery. Imagine needing services but not being able to access them because you don’t speak the language.

 

For many Spanish-speaking families in Baltimore, even the most basic and necessary of services are inaccessible because information is only offered in English. Primeros Pasos, which means First Steps in Spanish, was established to provide support services for Baltimore’s Spanish-speaking community. One of the few programs with support professionals who not only speak the language but understand the culture, Primeros Pasos is helping famlies of children with developmental delays access the services they would not have even been able to ask for.

Primeros Pasos is the second program Kennedy Krieger has established to serve a unique segment of the community. In 2001 it launched Kodem Kol, a support service for the Orthodox Jewish community.

“With Kodem Kol, we’ve had success reaching families who might not have sought help otherwise,” says Joan Lawrence, director of the Institute’s Family Support Services program.

Both of these programs have made a huge difference for the families they serve. Idolina Bautista is one mother who found help through Primeros Pasos. When her daughter, Kayla, was diagnosed with severe developmental delays, Idolina wasn’t able to get the help she needed because her English is limited. Primeros Pasos has ensured that Kayla receives the occupational, physical, and speech and language therapies that she needs.

“At two, my daughter was moving around more and learning to crawl,” says Idolina. “Now that she is almost three, she is able to crawl very well. As her parents, that was our happiest memory to see her develop and move around more, to see her progressing. This is thanks to the program.”

That moment, so long in coming, is one that Idolina will remember forever. Without the support of Primeros Pasos, it’s hard to say when it would have come.