By Sarah Fowler
Worldwide Speech is a teletherapy private practice that has provided speech therapy, occupational therapy, reading intervention, special education, and tutoring to families all across the globe for over a decade. Enter your email below to receive free monthly newsletters and free parent handouts!
As mentioned in this month’s newsletter, Worldwide Speech is excited to announce its partnership with
Remfrey Educational Consulting!
Our missions go hand and hand…
Erin Long, the Founder, and CEO of Worldwide Speech developed the idea for the company after opening independent practices for expatriate children in both Mexico and Brazil. Through her experience with these practices Erin became aware of the large, but dispersed demand for native English-speaking speech pathologists among the expatriate community and realized that the key to meeting this demand was teletherapy. For Erin, finding a way to provide speech therapy and other special education services to children abroad is a personal passion. As a member of the U.S. Foreign Service community, Erin has a unique understanding of the challenges that expatriate families have when trying to find appropriate educational support for their children outside the United States. This is why Worldwide Speech’s primary focus has always been on expatriate children, and what drove Erin to eventually expand the company to include occupational therapy and reading intervention.
Imagine our excitement when we were introduced to April J. Remfrey, a disability inclusion consultant that focuses her time working with international schools and globally mobile families with neurodiverse children. She works with international schools to help improve their inclusive practices through PD and the use of her progress monitoring tool. April was a teacher for over 20 years in three countries and has experience in public, private, and international school environments.
About April and Remfrey Educational Consulting…
1. Tell us a little about yourself
Originally from a town of 2,000 people in Iowa, I grew up in a family of five. Both of my parents are music teachers and my daily life was filled with listening to and playing jazz and classical music. At the ripe old age of 24, my husband and I embarked on our first experience abroad in Paris. It whets our appetite for living the ex-pat life and we knew we wanted to raise our future children in a similar environment. Fast-forward 13 years and we moved our family of three to Switzerland and are reaping the benefits of raising a Third Culture Kid. It would be a lie to say it has always been easy, but it has been an extremely enriching and rewarding experience.
2. What does inclusion mean to you?
Inclusion is an elusive word because it is a buzzword in many settings at the moment. The inclusion that I’m most passionate about is disability inclusion and more specifically disability inclusion in international schools.
3. What inspired you to become an advocate for inclusion
My younger brother struggled with severe ADHD and I sat in the front row observing his behavior, medication ups and downs, and how it affected our family. This experience at home was coupled with my school experience in 3rd grade when a teacher that didn’t know how to deal with my gifted tendencies sent me out of the classroom regularly. Thankfully, she sent me to work in the classroom of children with multiple physical and mental disabilities which I loved. Little did that teacher know that her punishment planted the seeds of my future professional path.
4. What’s something you wish all parents knew about advocating for inclusion?
Many public school systems around the world provide free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment to students of all ability levels. International schools, on the other hand, operate similarly to private schools — they can accept and reject whomever they choose. In addition, they are not required to provide special education services and can transition students out of their school if they decide they’re no longer a good fit. Unfortunately, this approach leaves neurodiverse students — and their families — in difficult situations. It is our job, with the support of parents to create system-wide standards for learning support departments and communication between teachers will help establish a solid foundation for the successful inclusion of students with unique educational needs. These goals can be met by advocating for:
- Creating a universal IEP for international schools;
- Deciding on a common language for learning support departments worldwide;
- Creating a global, accredited standard of practice; and
- Creating a recognized high school diploma that provides workplace training.
5. What can parents gain from working with you?
I work with parents to be their advocates, work through issues, and help them keep the narrative alive when moving schools. I attend meetings with parents to help bridge the gap between the understanding of the parents and the school and build bridges to keep relations positive. I also consult with families as they are making big decisions or need someone to support their child with specific issues. When moving schools or large jumps in school, I interview past teachers and therapists, review all documentation and paperwork, and create a learner profile which is a bit like a student CV. This CV shares very specific, factually based information with new and/or prospective schools to help the new location quickly understand the student. I love helping globally mobile families!