Bowling Green, KY – August 5, 2016 – The Communication Sciences and Disorders Department Communication Disorders Clinic hosted 49 full-time and part-time distance learning graduate students from across the United States for a clinical internship this summer. These graduate students complete all coursework online with the exception of a six-week internship where students were required to attend WKU to demonstrate their ability to be successful as speech-language pathology students in a clinical setting.
The Communication Disorders Clinic (CDC) held therapy sessions in several different locations in order to meet the growing needs of the distance program and the community. The CDC is mainly housed in WKU-Graves Gilbert Health Services and the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex. This summer, partnerships continued with Bowling Green Independent Schools, Warren County Head Start, WKU Child Care Center at Jones Jaggers, The Buddy House, and The Kelly Autism Program at the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex. A new partnership was formed with Chandler Memory Care and the CSD program extended its reach regionally to WKU-Glasgow campus.
The partnership with WKU-Glasgow campus was headed by College of Health and Human Services Dean Neale Chumbler, WKU-Glasgow Regional Chancellor Sally Ray, Vice Regional Chancellor Bill Walter, CSD Department Head Jean Neils-Strunjas, CDC Director Caroline Hudson, and Clinical Supervisor Leigh Anne Roden-Carrier. The site was able to serve thirteen clients from areas east of Bowling Green who would normally travel to WKU CDC-Bowling Green for summer services. For some clients and families, the services offered at WKU-Glasgow decreased their drive time by more than two hours. Dr. Sally Ray stated, “WKU Glasgow is extremely appreciative of the opportunity to serve as a host site for the summer clinic. The clinic has provided a tremendous service to citizens in our region. This is an excellent partnership and we look forward to future collaborations.” One adult client from WKU-Glasgow commented, “My clinician was very good and helped me feel more comfortable in my speech. I am thankful these services were provided closer to my home because I wouldn’t have been able to travel to Bowling Green twice a week.”
This summer, nearly two hundred individuals of all ages in Bowling Green and surrounding areas were served by the Communication Disorders Clinic. Thirteen speech-language pathologists served as supervisors for the large number of bootcamp clinicians. Clinical Supervisor Susan Kerr commented, “The bootcamp interns took the challenge eagerly with very professional attitudes. They were creative and eager to provide very rich intervention to those students.” Clinical Supervisor Rebecca Broyles added, “The students were remarkably flexible, willing to learn and diligently focused. It was a joy to work with them.” Though the summer session is short compared to fall and spring sessions, there were many accomplishments:
• At the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex (CEC), the CDC had a summer Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Group. The group provided AAC device users in the community a safe and friendly place to interact with other AAC device users in a fun learning environment. Many clients who use a device in their home school are often the only students in an entire student body with a device. The AAC group afforded clients the opportunity to interact and learn from each other as they observed other participants use devices to interact, participate, and have fun. It also gave graduate level clinicians valuable experience in the area of communication modalities. Two augmentative and alternative communication users spontaneously initiated communication using a device for the first time in their lives while another combined two words for the first time.
• Several clients served at the CEC also had feeding issues. One expanded his food repertoire from accepting two textures and 11 foods to accepting four textures and six new foods. Clinical Supervisor Dr. Janice Carter Smith added, “One of our clients had a slight intolerance for dyes in food; clinician Gina McCurry told the client a story about cotton candy, which she called “princess food.” McCurry told her it was full of magic and you could only eat a pinch at a time to be safe. The child loved it and it made her sessions all the more magical.”
• The CDC continued Little Topper Time (LTT), a parent-based language intervention program provided in a group setting. Graduate level clinicians assigned to LTT learned how to facilitate language development and help parents/caregivers feel like the primary agents of change. Parents play a critical role in the development of their child’s language and teaching parents to enhance language development is an important component of effective remediation of young children’s language impairments.
• A hybrid method of large group language intervention and individualized therapy was piloted at Head Start; children received more skilled and goal directed therapy minutes this summer as compared to the last two summers. Teachers reported a higher level of satisfaction than years past regarding summer speech-language therapy services. The clinicians also gained experience with low socioeconomic populations and learned more about transactional support for early childhood education teachers.
• Nine individuals with moderate to severe dementia and cognitive-communication impairments received services at Chandler Memory Care. Group activities were open to all residents and individual treatment sessions were provided in common areas; other residents chose to watch the sessions out of interest and preference to be around the clinicians. One individual with severe dementia painted birdhouses, decorated cards, planted flowers, and dressed-up for special occasions. In addition, graduate clinicians worked closely with activity therapists who taught them behavioral and programming techniques, while the clinicians modeled communication and cuing techniques for the staff to follow.
• The partnership with Bowling Green Independent School District was another success. Three sites offered services to twenty children with significant communication needs. One group of student clinicians made a cardboard jeep as a visual for the children’s book Sheep in a Jeep. Clients made progress and maintained skills that may have been completely lost over the summer and are better ready for the upcoming school year.
Learn more about WKU Communication Sciences and Disorders program by visiting their website: http://www.wku.edu/communicationdisorders/