Friday, July 20, 2007

Can dolphin therapy help child speak?

A Swansea couple are hoping the chance to swim with dolphins will give their seven- year-old daughter the gift of speech. Georgia Jones suffered respiratory arrest as a baby, and has since suffered learning difficulties and severe communication problems.Now the youngster's mum Claire, aged 31, has launched an appeal to raise enough money to take her daughter to swim with dolphins at Key Largo, Florida.

She hopes the therapy Georgia would receive from the trip could be the key to getting her talking at last."I have this feeling that if we take her, she won't string sentences together but she will start to say words," she said."This is the key thing for her."Claire, a student nurse, added: "At the end of the day it's not a holiday, it's a therapeutic programme for Georgia."The seven-year-old requires 24-hour care and supervision, and has undergone traditional therapy without success.So-called dolphin therapy has had some notable successes in the past.

For example, in 1998 eight-year-old Nikki Brice, from Somerset, who suffered brain damage at birth, reportedly spoke for the first time after swimming with dolphins in Florida.Georgia's family hope to raise between £4,000 and £5,000 to pay for the potentially life-changing trip, possibly in September.Efforts will kick off with a sponsored walk from County Hall to Mumbles on Saturday, July 28, at 2pm.Georgia's father Barry, aged 33, of Roger Street, Treboeth, said: "Georgia has no communication skills at all. Because of that, it's very difficult to assess her."

His wife continued: "She's seven years old and is unaware of anything, has no understanding, and is still in nappies."She's still in a baby situation. She mumbles, but she's just a danger to herself."She said that when Georgia suffered the respiratory arrest it was devastating."You see two sides of the child."She was three months when this respiratory arrest happened and you see a child smiling and going through the stages, and the next thing, she doesn't even know who you are," she said.

She said she knew something was not right with her daughter's development, having had her brother Joshua, now aged 10, previously.Members of Joshua's football team, Treboeth United under-10s, will be taking part in the walk, along with friends and family.Anyone wanting to help with the appeal can make cheques payable to: Georgia Jones Fund, c/o HSBC Bank, Portland Street, Swansea.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"