Children who have a difficult time communicating also have a difficult time interacting with their peers, doing well in school or performing many tasks their peers take for granted.
That’s where the Summer Speech Therapy program at Beaumont Hospital Wayne comes in. The program pairs children with speech therapists who work with them individually to overcome their com- munication barriers. The program takes place over the course of seven weeks and culminates with a picnic where the children play games and interact with each other.
It is funded through the Beaumont Foundation and designed to help children prepare for the next school year and teach their parents the skills to better cope with their individual challenges, said Dipti Christian, manager of rehabilitation services at Beaumont Hospital Wayne. She credits the administration at Beaumont Hospital Wayne, for supporting the program and bringing the vital service to the area.
“This is a truly unique program that we’re happy to be able to provide to the community,” she said. “It helps kids be kids. It’s a great feeling, knowing that we helped these children learn how to interact better with their peers—and that they had fun doing it.”
She said she works with speech therapists at nearby schools to find children who may benefit from the program—children who are either uninsured or underinsured whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the specialized counseling provided through the program.
It did for Shawn Clark, who joined his sister Katie in the program this year. Katie took part last year, too. Katie went from having difficulty with words to being able to say complete phrases, said her father, Brian Clark. Shawn benefitted, too. “He knew what he wanted to say, he just couldn’t say it. He got very frustrated,” Brian said. “Now he can communicate a lot better; it’s really improved his attitude on life. He’s happier and he’s more social.”
The program has grown within the past decade. In 2006, only eight children took part. This year, there were 44 children involved. The children who took part were aged anywhere from 2 to 12 years old. Dipti said it was gratifying to see everyone interacting with each other and taking part in the activities during the program picnic, which is designed as a fun day where the children can interact with each other.