Services for Children with Special Needs in Belize

Ruins in San Ignacio, Belize.

Services for Children with Special Needs in Belize

Location: San Ignacio, Belize
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led

  • Plan and run Tykes Camp 
  • Participate in formal and informal assessments of hearing and speech/language.
  • Learn about the history and culture of Belize.
  • Visit sites of interest, including Mayan ruins and the Belize Barrier Reef

Belize is located in Central America, between Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea and south of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Belize was previously known as British Honduras, before gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1981. English is the official language of Belize, though a creole patois, Spanish, and other indigenous languages are also spoken.

Most of the program will be spent in San Ignacio, in the western Belize district of Cayo. The district is also home to Mayan ruins and caves. The group will also go on excursions to Belmopan, the capital city, as well as Caye Caulker, a limestone coral island, perfect for snorkeling.

This summer study abroad program is designed for Speech-Language-Hearing majors and other students with an interest in working with people with different types of disabilities. The group will plan and run Tykes Camp for children with special needs, which will promote speaking, listening, learning, sensory, and motor skills in a fun and naturalistic setting. Additionally, students will learn about the history and culture of Belize through lectures given by local experts and participate in cultural activities that are emblematic of Belize.

Three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students will enroll in 3 credit hours of SPLH 452/752 Examining Global Perspectives in Speech-Language-Hearing. The program will service children on the autism spectrum; therefore, SPLH 452 will count towards the Undergraduate Certificate in Learning and Communication in Children with Autism.

During the Spring semester the group will meet twice with the faculty directors to receive an overview and orientation to the work that will be done in Belize, learn and practice how to conduct hearing screenings from a certified and licensed audiologist, and build awareness and knowledge of the culture of Belize. Graduate students enrolled in SPLH 752 may be required to facilitate discussions or prepare presentations for these meetings. 

While in Belize, the group will participate in a variety of activities that may include both formal and informal assessments, group therapy (Tykes Camp), individual therapy sessions, caregiver training, and time working and learning from other health care professionals.

Students are housed in double or triple room occupancy in hotels for the duration of the program. All meals are included while in Belize.

KU is partnering with Therapy Abroad, a program provider, that works with Belize’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to help achieve the goals they’ve set forth for their most vulnerable citizens. One of the main goals of Therapy Abroad is sustainability and they work year-round to develop services in Belize.

While in Belize, students will develop and run Tykes Camp, which is a multi-day, communication-based learning camp for children with special needs designed around skill-based stations such as speaking, listening, learning, sensory, and fine & gross motor skills. Speech and language goals will be targeted in the broader context of play, academic skills, and activities of daily living. At the end of each day, students will make notes to document the client’s response to treatment during each session. Additionally, hearing screens and consultations for the campers and their families will be offered.

Prior to the camp, the group will also visit the capital city of Belmopan and a children’s resource center so that students can observe the tutoring, education, and support services offered to children from the local community and interact with “typically” developing children to observe their language and culture, teacher/caregiver interaction, and gain context for developing activities for kids with speech and language disorders.

Students will also participate in several cultural activities and excursions over the course of the program. While in San Ignacio, planned activities include a guided walking tour of San Ignacio, a visit to the market where they sell everything from local fruits, spices, and honey to hammocks, woodwork, and Mayan handicraft. Additionally, a visit to a Mayan Archeological site and cave, natural waterfalls and pools, and an overnight excursion to the Belize Barrier Reef are planned.  

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Considerations for Belize

The U.S. Department of State has indicated that LGBTQIA+ people may face discrimination while in Belize. Read more in the “Local Laws and Special Circumstances” section of the Belize country information. Therapy Abroad has not received reports of incidents of this type with any of their students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the program coordinator.  

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to KU undergraduate and graduate students. Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

KU partners with Therapy Abroad to offer this program and Therapy Abroad requires that all participants are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Professors Krysta Green ( and Ana Paula Mumy ( will be the faculty directors on the program.

Passport and Entry Requirements

All U.S. citizens must have a passport to enter Belize. Your passport should be valid for six months after the program ends (i.e. until November 2022). If it's not, renew it. No tourist visa is required. Passport processing can take up to 12 weeks, so please plan ahead.

Non U.S. citizens are responsible for understanding your entry requirements. Read more about visas and entry requirements on the website of the Embassy of Belize. Please carefully read the information on the website. Your passport must be valid for six months after the program ends (i.e. until November 2022).