Back-to-school time is often exciting, fun and stress-invoking for children. For some it means reconnecting with friends, getting new clothes or a new box of crayons. For others it means returning to a schedule when they will start getting regular breakfasts and lunches again, in addition to getting special services such as work on language with Center speech therapists.
Children with communication disorders who return to school need help. The Center for Hearing & Speech is here for them, and with plenty of safety protocols in place. We thank you for partnering with us to make it possible financially.
Children who attend schools with Center-provided speech and language therapy receive weekly one-on-one speech sessions with licensed speech pathologists (therapists) in the schools they attend. We also account for safety in terms of COVID-19 precautions.
Julia Weber, one of the Center speech therapists, explains how she wears a face mask with a clear vinyl insert so children can see her mouth as she speaks. There is also a plexiglass partition with a small opening at the bottom to pass items between the child and therapist. And the tools they use (toys, games, tablets) are chosen for their ability to be easily sanitized between each child’s session.
Julia says the children do not mind wearing masks at school since “as far as they know, it is the norm.” However, Julia allows children to remove their mask when working on articulation so she can see how they form sounds for words.
“I feel safe because they are behind the plexiglass barrier, and I know everyone was screened before entering the building,” she added.
With all these safety protocols in place, speech therapy still works. Julia shared about a preschool child she started with last year. When he started preschool, his teachers and parents had a hard time understanding what he said. As a child learns to speak, it takes time for correct speech patterns to develop. Charles had speech patterns that persisted past the age when most children stop using them. Four-year-old Charles was still saying “tow” for “cow,” dropping off letters (like saying “nake” for “snake”) and could not yet pronounce more difficult sounds (like saying “pish” for “fish”).
Knowing that Charles loves dinosaurs and sharks, Julia incorporates them into the games and activities they do while working on articulation. He enjoys practicing his speech while working coloring sheets, card games like “Go Fish” and iPad games. Charles’ family could see the improvement by the end of the school year, so they took advantage of summer speech therapy at the Center. This helped prevent him from regressing over the summer, so he was able to return to school much more intelligible, ready to make new friends and learn.
Hundreds of children like Charles receive speech therapy from the Center for Hearing & Speech in 17 locations in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and East St. Louis, Illinois. Most students have returned to in-person school this fall. Those that have not still have the option to participate in speech therapy virtually.
Thank you for financially supporting our speech therapy program so we can help children like Charles have the skills they need to grow and learn.