Fellow Since 2000
Cabrera - Gómez & Asociados
This profile was prepared when Tatiana Gómez Durán was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Tatiana believes that children with neurological disorders benefit more from having parents who understand and actively treat their impairments than from receiving intermittent, impersonal treatment by doctors in far-away clinics. By the time her son Santiago, who was born with cerebral palsy, was four years old, Tatiana had grown frustrated with the care he was receiving–not just in Bogotá, but in internationally renowned medical centers in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia–and with the huge prices her family paid for so little in return. She finally gave up their arduous daily trips for an hour or two of treatment. These sessions were unproductive and did not relate to his home life. Instead, she dedicated herself to organizing and managing a regimen of physical, educational, and emotional development for Santiago. Tatiana did not dismiss the expertise of doctors and therapists, but fit their professional services into a broader scheme in which she and her husband were the primary care-givers, the home replaced the clinic, and treatment was integrated with play and daily activities. In this environment, Santiago learned to walk and read in the same nurturing home where he grew up and played, meeting these challenges with his parents by his side. Having watched her son defy doctors' speculation that he may never learn to walk, Tatiana believes that her methods can greatly help other neurologically-impaired children. (Santiago, now a teenager, not only walks on his own, but swims more than a half-mile daily, speaks two foreign languages, and despite severe dyslexia hopes to go to college in a few years). Parents too will benefit, since they can treat their children more cheaply, conveniently, and sustainably at home. Parents can travel less frequently to distant clinics and pay less often for professionals' time, while involving themselves integrally in their children's development. Furthermore, Tatiana believes that her in-home, family-empowerment style can benefit the healthcare and therapy industries. When doctors entrust parents to provide most care themselves, they have more time to spend with their patients, and have the chance to build sustainable long-term relationships. Families will be less frustrated with treatment–a common problem under the current system. Tatiana is working to convince professionals of this benefit in order to gain their support.