Meet our professionals – Helping those with disabilities find a voice

We kickstart the SPD Professionals' Day series with this feature on SPD Therapy Hub speech therapist Saxena Chandhok Tanushree.

When not donned in their SPD uniform, our professionals take on varied roles in the community – from volunteering their expertise to empower persons with disabilities to paying it forward in the community. In celebration of SPD Professionals’ Day on 1 September, we bring you a new weekly series on our professionals at and away from work. We kickstart the series with this feature on Saxena Chandhok Tanushree, an SPD Therapy Hub speech therapist whose passion for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) extends beyond her work.

Not speaking is not the same as not having something to say.

This is a notion that speech therapist Saxena Chandhok Tanushree hopes to champion within and outside her course of work.

A speech therapist under SPD Therapy Hub deployed to support SPD’s Specialised Assistive Technology Centre, the 41-year-old frequently meets individuals with complex communication needs.

Tanushree having a chat with Seng Koon who has an A A C app open on his tablet
Tanushree speaking with Seng Koon, an AAC user, a client of SPD’s Specialised Assistive Technology Centre and Vice President of ISAAC-Singapore.

“It is easy to get the wrong idea that individuals with complex communication needs are unable to communicate. But everyone has something to say,” explained Tanushree, who aims to help individuals find a voice through AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). Her interest in AAC grew after taking an AAC module during her master’s programme 15 years ago.

What is AAC?
AAC empowers individuals who have communication difficulties to express their needs, wants, ideas and aspirations. There are different types of AAC systems. Gestures, communication charts and high-tech computerised devices are some examples of AAC systems that people use to express themselves.

Her passion for AAC saw her volunteering at the local chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC).

An active volunteer since early last year, Tanushree helps to organise ‘AAC Also Can’ events such as the recent AAC Camp where AAC users, caregivers, volunteers, and practitioners come together to support and mentor one another, and also to hang out and have fun.

Tanushree communicating with a boy using a communication chart
Tanushree communicating with a boy using a communication chart at the AAC camp

Besides ISAAC, Tanushree is also involved in the Speech And Language Therapy Singapore (SALTS), a professional association for speech and language therapists in Singapore. “Volunteering at these two organisations is an extension of my profession. I hope to give back to the speech therapy and AAC community through planning and executing activities to raise the profile of the ST profession and raise awareness about the power of AAC,” shared Tanushree.