Speech-language pathology student chronicles her work as part of the LEND Program on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation

Editor's note: The Learning Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Program provides graduate and post-graduate level students with the opportunity to improve the health of infants, children and adolescents with disabilities. Hannah Robinson, a second-year speech-language pathology student from Halstead, Kansas, spent a week in June along with Joshuaa Allison-Burbank, a speech-language pathologist at the University of Kansas, providing speech and language screenings for kindergarten-age children on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. In her journal, Robinson writes about the experience.

Earlier this summer, my bags were packed, and I was ready to go on a new adventure. As a kickoff to my traineeship through the Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities Program at the University of Kansas Medical Center, I was heading to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, to administer speech-language and hearing screenings to American Indian children and adults, along with my LEND supervisor Josh Allison-Burbank.

Josh and I would be paired with two other LEND associates from the University of South Dakota: speech-language pathologist Elizabeth Hanson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Jessica Landsman, a first-year audiology student. Our plan when we visited the tribal school, which was just two blocks from where we were staying, was to complete speech-language and hearing screenings on the 35 kids would be kindergarteners in the fall. We completed 28 screenings, noting that the majority of the children need further evaluation to address issues with speech, language and hearing.

Along with the screenings at the tribal school, the LEND team helped with events hosted by the Eagle Butte community and the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance (AIHREA) - an alliance between the Center for American Indian Community Health (CAICH) at KU Medical Center and the Indigenous Studies Program at Johnson County Community College.

On our first day, we attended a powwow where we were treated to a traditional beef stew with squash. At the powwow, we helped distribute T-shirts and gift cards to people who took part in surveys that will benefit medical research.

The next day, we took part in a community mental health fair. Our LEND team took turns tending to a skee ball station benefitting maternal and child development. Later this night, we provided hearing screenings for the entire community.

On our last day in South Dakota, the LEND and AIHREA team members toured some of the rural areas around Eagle Butte. The closest neighboring community is about 40 miles away. We saw an area with a huge hill where Sasquatch has been spotted, so naturally we climbed to the top to try and spot him ourselves. No Sasquatch was spotted.

We also helped with the summer recreation program and said goodbye to the children with whom we had spent so much time with. After leaving Eagle Butte, Josh and I made our way to Badlands National Park and then back to good 'ole Kansas City.

In the end, my trip to Eagle Butte was informative, fun, and an overall great experience. On a clinical level, I feel more confident about my skills with otoscopic examinations, administering hearing tests and providing speech-language screenings independently.

Personally, during my time working with the Lakota people, my eyes were open to a sad reality: there are vast differences in the level of education and services provided to the Lakota people compared to what children in Kansas City and the surrounding area have. Although resources may be lacking for the Lakota in Eagle Butte, I am excited to help create a long-term solution with Josh this year during continuing with my LEND experience. I look forward to returning to South Dakota to provide any services I can to Eagle Butte.

Last modified: Jul 18, 2017
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