There’s no where in the world that the word ‘craziness’ is more apt than here in HCMC, Vietnam 🇻🇳. It is a completely crazy yet wonderful place, and we as the Owl Centre therapists are very lucky to provide training here on a regular basis. Are you sitting comfortably and I’ll tell you how it all began…..?
In 2009 I was lucky enough to get a two month work stint as a speech therapist with VSO in Nha Trang, a beach resort in central Vietnam. My main role was helping families of children with autism with sensory processing difficulties, and speech, language and communication skills, many of them had very little knowledge or support about this complex disorder
I worked along side a British special needs teacher, Marianne Simpson, who was living in Nha Trang with her husband, Chris, and we had the most amazing interpreter, Hien, a local special needs teacher. At the time, she didn’t actually have brilliant English but undoubtedly she was the best person for the job due to her patience, work ethic and sheer brilliance with the families and children. (I’ll just add that Hien is the person who subsequently came to Birmingham Uni to study a masters in Autism and she was with me when my car got car-jacked. Her first step on her university campus out of a police car! Poor lamb).
When Marianne left Vietnam, Hien went to work for SCC (Saigon Children’s Charity) and amazingly, SCC have sponsored many Owl Centre therapists including, speech therapists, Occupational Therapists and special needs teachers to come to Vietnam and deliver fortnight training programmes - I guess there have been about 10 in total so far. We are so so fortunate to have this privilege, and both we the therapists, the Vietnamese special needs teachers and the parents have all benefited greatly - or so we hope.
So back to the title of this blog!
Vietnam, its cities and our training courses are not for the faint hearted. Our days are completely jam packed. Let’s take today for example; waking at 6am not necessarily out of choice but because that’s when the horns of the motorbikers start beeping, head out to work at the educational college at 7.30am dodging as many motorbikes as we can in our ‘shed on wheels’, then interviewing the special needs teachers for the next summer courses from 8am until 11.30am (they are interviewed so that we can select the teachers who are confident enough to share their knowledge with others), a quick lunch bought from a ‘restaurant bike’ parked up outside the college selling noodle soup with snails, crab, squid, that you mix together with a load of fresh herbs, lettuce leaves and bean sprouts - delicious (although I’m not sure my tummy agrees with me as I write this blog!), a quick 30 minute zizzz and then the first parent training course starts at 1pm for three hours and the second training course ends at 9pm.
After such craziness, it didn’t go down well when last night, our taxi driver dropped us in the equivalent of an outdoor rave and ordered us to get out because he couldn’t drive any further due of the craziness of people and motorbikes filling the narrow street. A sensory overload like no other and the parents have on the training course were conveniently given the homework to head down to that street to experience the kind of sensory overload that chidlren on the autistic spectrum experience on a regular basis.
Well, I must get back to the craziness. I’ll write again when things are calmer…