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Therapeutic summer fun helps kids with communication disorders

by jmaloni


Tue, Jun 3rd 2014 02:10 pm

UB offers intensive summer programs for children, adolescents with speech and language problems

The University at Buffalo Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences will offer a number of creative and fun intensive speech and language programs July 8 to Aug. 7 for school-age children and adolescents who have any of a wide range of communication difficulties.

The programs will help students with such issues as stuttering, delayed speech development, problems with social language skills and stubborn pronunciation errors involving specific sounds. Language assistance will be offered to children with Autism spectrum disorder.

Free eligibility screening will take place by appointment until June 12; appointments can be made by calling 716-829-5575 or emailing [email protected]. Six 15-session programs, each addressing one of the issues cited above, will be offered. Each will be 90 minutes long and take place three days a week. All but one will finish by 1 p.m.

The tuition rate for each program is $300, but fees will be determined by a sliding scale. Limited tuition scholarships are available to eligible families unable to pay the full fee. Unlike prior years, medical insurance will not be billed for these programs.

Students who do not meet the eligibility requirements for their program of choice may be offered other treatment options, including individual therapy in the department's clinic subject to availability.

The program coordinator is Susan Felsenfeld, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the department of communicative disorders and sciences at UB.

"Many of the children we're trying to reach have been undergoing individualized speech therapy," she said. "What is unique about these programs is that they offer the children and adolescents an opportunity for intensive therapy in a social setting.

"We'll offer activities in which they practice articulation, for example, but in a group setting. Sometimes children who have gone through speech therapy are still having trouble in middle school and high school with, for example, the R sound, or they may still have a lisp or they stutter.

"Some students may not qualify for therapy in school, because their speech issue is too mild. But all of these children - from those with mild problems to those with more pronounced problems - could benefit from these programs."

The programs offered will be:

The language-focused preschool program, "Time to Talk," which is designed to assist children ages 3 to 5 who are experiencing difficulties with expressive or receptive language development. Its activities are designed to improve communication and foster appropriate social interactions in a fun and friendly environment.

"Social Language Skills to Go" will help children ages 9 to 13 engage in meaningful and reciprocal conversations with peers and adults. Conversation competence will be fostered through such skills as turn taking, commenting, questioning, topic maintenance and body language. Specific conversational skill in individual sessions will be practiced and carried forward in the group setting.

Verbal behavior skill-building program, a different approach to traditional speech/language therapy for school-aged children challenged by Autism spectrum disorder, will be most beneficial for children able to talk, but who have difficulty with more complex social and abstract language skills. The program will be supervised by a board-certified behavior analyst/licensed speech pathologist.

Articulation boot camp to help youth and adolescents clean up stubborn pronunciation errors.

The Lidcombe Program for Early Stuttering for children between ages 3 and 6 is a highly effective treatment designed to help children learn new ways of talking while encouraging and increasing naturally occurring fluency. Parents will be taught simple feedback strategies that can be employed throughout the day to accelerate and maintain progress.

Language and the creative arts is a new offering for adolescents with mild pragmatic and expressive language disabilities. Co-directed by a speech-language pathologist and a literacy specialist, it pairs language and social communication with creative expression, including creative writing, drawing, music and acting.

The central auditory processing skill building program is designed to facilitate listening, self-advocacy, and literacy skills in school-aged children who have a central auditory processing disorder.

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