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HomeLIFESTYLETherapist Roxana Pirjol: Every child has their own value, regardless of barriers.

Therapist Roxana Pirjol: Every child has their own value, regardless of barriers.

Roxana Nicoleta Pîrjol has dedicated herself to behavioral therapy for children with special needs in Brașov. In 2017, she opened her clinic, offering services based on empathy, curiosity, and responsibility. Specializing in behavioral analysis, Roxana designs and implements behavioral change programs, significantly contributing to improving the lives of the children she guides. Her work, considered her most valuable achievement, turns children’s dreams into reality.

C&B: Describe your activity!
Roxana Pirjol: My activity focuses on four areas: individual therapy, group therapy / socialization groups, speech therapy, and creative workshops. All these four areas are intended for children with special educational needs.
The main activity is represented by individual therapeutic intervention through which I aim to develop skills (communication, play and social interaction, cognitive, and personal autonomy), as well as modeling behaviors.
We start with an initial assessment, take into account the child’s age, and establish the recovery plan and priorities for teaching functional skills.

C&B: When and how did you start in this field?
Roxana Pirjol: My start in this field was in 2012, my first year of college. Then I engaged in volunteer activities in almost all institutions that had recovery of children with special educational needs as their field of activity. At one of these institutions, I spent 3 years, and since 2017 I have my own clinic. My dream has become a reality and continues to brighten each day. I have met hundreds of children and have learned stories that have made me stay in the field. Parents come to me with a sheet that has the diagnosis and a lot of hope for a more independent future for their child.

C&B: What is important to know about working with children with special needs?
Roxana Pirjol: To work with a child with special educational needs, I considered continuous acquisition of updated information useful, which has led me to attend numerous and diverse long-term courses/training. Behind the toys scattered all over the clinic, there are clear rules and objectives for managing a therapy session. All these things would not be possible without in-depth training on the recovery of children with special educational needs.

C&B: As a consultant in behavioral analysis, how do you define the INTEGRATION of a child with special needs into mainstream school?
Roxana Pirjol: We must remember that we are unique and each child has their own value, regardless of the problems they present in the learning process.
When we talk about the integration of a child with special educational needs (SEN), we consider the following decision factors: Adapting the educational system and better informing the teaching staff about the needs and particularities of children with SEN; The therapist – through teaching and generalizing skills (cognitive, social, and communication) during therapy sessions; Group belonging – is the first barrier to overcome, beyond acceptance, they need to be offered adapted learning opportunities, teaching staff familiar with the child’s diagnosis and the difficulties that come with it; Quick adaptation to a mainstream educational system – the child needs exposure to situations similar to those they will encounter in class. For example, within socialization groups organized, the transition from face-to-face teaching (individual sessions) to teaching instructions and responses in a group is aimed at. This gradual transition to the requirements similar to those at school helps balance the child’s emotional state. Identifying the mental age and integrating into the appropriate class (at the closest level).

C&B: What do you think are the barriers faced by Romanian schools in integrating children with special needs?
Roxana Pirjol: When initiating the integration of children with special needs, a series of barriers generated by legislation and governmental policies, plus human and financial resources, appear. The lack of policies and concrete objectives are major obstacles in ensuring education for all – deficient procedures for applying legislation and the existence of standards only in writing. Then, we need to talk about teachers who have not been trained to work with students with special educational needs, inaccessible and unstructured buildings according to the needs and skills of each student, insufficient equipment for the educational process, and inefficient mechanisms for evaluating competencies.

C&B: Where do you think education begins and ends?
Roxana Pirjol: Education has always had multiple roles for the individual and society. If in college I did not pay too much attention to this concept, now it is very clear to me that education means trust (I define this through mutual respect and it is desirable to form a multidisciplinary team made up of all actors involved in the educational process, from the child and teacher to family and the broader community), equity (respecting the rights of each child to have equal opportunities to reach their maximum potential, regardless of socioeconomic status, abilities, or physical and psychological characteristics) and solidarity (all members of society form an inclusive learning community and together can lay the foundations of a solid educational system). Being a good therapist means being curious, annoyingly curious, and this generates lifelong learning.

C&B: What are the life and activity principles you use and never deviate from?
Roxana Pirjol: First, effective communication (expressing ideas in a simple and concise manner to avoid confusion. Using clear and accessible language is essential for ensuring understanding by parents), then, following a plan (planning is a crucial aspect in achieving success and realizing professional and personal objectives), empathy (my professional activity can be associated with a vocation. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a sign of consideration for others, and this can have a profound impact on interpersonal relationships and success), and lastly, maintaining balance (quickly adapting to changes and challenges that arise).

C&B: Is there a close link between career and being a good professional?
Roxana Pirjol: Careers are diverse, some sound good in theory, but in practice, they might not be as appreciated. To become a good professional, it is not enough to know, you must also like what you do.
When I decided to follow this path, I was convinced that I love children, I like to help, and the belief that equal opportunities can change destinies, only through professionals, has built every professional decision of mine.

C&B: What does it mean to be an EFFICIENT therapist?
Roxana Pirjol: Everyone could give their own definition of what it means to be an efficient therapist. In reality, things are much more complex. Being an efficient therapist, I believe, means, in the first place, to be human, with all that it entails: good moods, bad moods, emotions, fears, anxieties, energy, fatigue. To have compassion for those you meet in your professional path. Then, it means that your goal is the children, and you do everything you know so they can become independent. You listen to the parents, you are close to them, you answer their questions patiently, you alleviate their suffering. Recovering children with SEN is not just about the love of science, it’s about people.

C&B: What advice do you have for those at the beginning or undecided in building a career as a therapist for children with SEN?
Roxana Pirjol: Beginnings are not easy in any career, but even more so in that of a therapist, when you are responsible for a child’s development.
The reality is that some of the valuable information will only be discovered through practice, but there are also a series of factors that can generate a career in this field.
Be an informed beginner, select those data relevant to you, and they will be helpful throughout the decision-making process.
Never stop learning – The learning process does not stop after finishing university, the truth is, that is when it actually begins!
Courage, patience, and perseverance must accompany you daily.
It’s desirable to be the one who develops skills, sets limits, encourages, loves, and who places a piece in the puzzle called life, for each child with special educational needs.
It is important to remember that children with special educational needs are also our children. They are like other children, only that they need more attention and acceptance from those around them.

C&B: What is your opinion on society and its evolution?
Roxana Pirjol: Evolution is the phenomenon through which certain aspects are replaced with new ones. In my professional area, society’s evolution is reflected in the development of non-governmental organization systems. Normality is given by what does not take us out of our routine. Society sets this pattern and most often has the tendency to reject what is considered “different”.
A child who does not fit into a classic mold always represents a challenge and requires special attention, time, and resources.

C&B: How do you define a happy child with SEN? And a parent?
Roxana Pirjol: The happiness of a child is priceless and worth any sacrifice, but the happiness of children with special educational needs starts with the care of the family, therapists, and teachers to understand their deficiencies and apply all acquired notions for optimal development.
For a parent of a child with special educational needs, the step of accepting a diagnosis can be hard to make and delays the start of the corresponding therapeutic process, which is so necessary. The stages that the family can go through vary from shock, denial, distrust, (self)blame to acceptance, resignation, and the fight for a better future for the child.
The happiness of a parent of a child with SEN is given by small but significant victories, every mastered, generalized program useful for harmonious development.

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