School of Health Professions

Speech-language pathology program offered two pediatric summer programs

pediatric speech and language summer program


By Kate Hunger

Two community-based pediatric speech and language programs offered this summer by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders helped children get ready for the new school year and gave graduate speech-language pathology students valuable clinical experience.

One of the programs, LAUNCH, is a four-week language enrichment program offered in June to children at a San Antonio apartment community as part of an ongoing partnership with Prospera Housing Communities. The program helped 17 children ranging in age from 4 to 13 years old who were identified as being at risk in the area of language skills during the project’s first phase last summer. LAUNCH was funded by a Community Service Learning grant from the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. Speech-language pathology master’s students helped facilitate the program, which featured a different theme each week with stories and activities designed to teach and reinforce grammar lessons.

“We are launching their language and literacy for the following school year, because these kids don’t receive services or formal instruction over the summer,” said Assistant Professor Casey Taliancich-Klinger, PhD, CCC-SLP, who led the LAUNCH program.

Speech-language pathology student Julia Lane said her experience in LAUNCH program was  meaningful.

“It was a great opportunity to practice targeting important language aspects across a large range of ages and backgrounds,” Lane said. “I gained practice being flexible when working with pediatric populations and adjusting my approaches in the moment to address individual needs.” 

Preliminary data from program, which will be used as pilot data for a grant and journal submission, is promising, Taliancich-Klinger said.

“The repetition of using the different stories really helped the students develop the macro structure elements of stories, which are part of the Texas essential knowledge and skills,” she said. “These kids showed us that they know the main parts of a story.”

Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor Angela Kennedy, SLP-D, CCC-SLP, led ROAR, a speech sound disorder intervention program focused on children whose families are part of a home-based learning network, Family Educators Alliance of South Texas (FEAST). Kennedy and graduate speech-language pathology students worked with participating children for two sessions per week over a three-week period. They targeted speech production, offered assessments of speech-sound production and provided parents with resources and education. Families told Kennedy that they have difficulty accessing and qualifying for services.

“What I love about these programs, which we hope to continue to offer in the future, is that we are going into the community and integrating within those environments,” Kennedy said. “We go to where they are. This allows us an opportunity to reach populations that we may not typically be able to in a more traditional therapy setting. It’s important work for us because it exposes our students to a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and the diversity that exists in the community.”

ROAR gave speech-language pathology master’s student McKenna Wilson a much-appreciated chance to gain practical experience with patients.

“I had the opportunity to administer articulation and phonological screeners, as well as plan structured therapy activities,” she said. “I also had opportunities to learn how to be flexible and think on my feet.”

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