At five years old, parents can understand almost every word their child says. They can respond to their child’s needs and answer their curiosity as they question and explore the world around them. For Rafi’s family, this was not the case.
His mother recalls how difficult it was for her son to utter words, develop a complete phrase, or even engage in any communication around him.
With his inability to express his emotions, she couldn’t understand his feelings in certain situations to the point that he sometimes stopped responding entirely. “Is he happy, is he scared, or is he frustrated? We would never get an answer.” Rafi’s parents could not afford a diagnosis of his condition or enroll him in school due to financial constraints.
That was until Rafi was identified as part of the Early Childhood Education Program (ECE) in the Back to the Future program. Zeina, Rafi’s teacher, speaks on how challenging he found his first day in class. “It was one-way communication. He was very shy, which limited his speech ability, and he was having a hard time following a casual conversation.” BLN activities were offered in the online and face-to-face classes, which focused on engaging all the senses, particularly auditory and verbal, to encourage him to interact and promote his communication skills.
Rafi is one of many children with educational challenges in the Back to the Future program, which places a high level of importance on creating an inclusive learning environment and supporting children’s unique needs. Zeina notes that his favorite activity was listening to songs and reciting them. Music, rhymes and verbal repetition appealed to his interest and promoted his language processing.
Now, Rafi is high-spirited, and his receptive and expressive abilities have significantly improved.
“Back to the Future” is funded by the European Union in Lebanon, through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, and implemented in partnership by AVSI, Terre des hommes Italy in Lebanon and War Child Holland in Lebanon.