Baldwin Wallace National Speech Language & Hearing Association hosted a 5k Run/Walk on April 9.

Proceeds were used to purchase iPads, iTouch and communication software for children who are nonverbal.



BW's Speech Clinic Bridges Pop Culture with Assisting Nonverbal Children

When iPad 2 hit the market in March, techies across the country celebrated. But amid its attributes and apps, the device and its predecessor brought to the forefront innovative uses beyond traditional business, education and gaming. 

For a child locked in silence, it brings an affordable link to the outside world and the ability to communicate - sometimes for the first time.

With the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicating that 1 in 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), educational devices that are easily accessible and affordable are changing the lives of special needs children across the country.

With traditional AAC devices costing thousands of dollars, apps like Proloquo260 (priced at $190 plus $399 for an iPad) offer affordable technology for children and adults diagnosed with ASD, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, among others. 

Baldwin Wallace University, who is amid the leaders in offering successful intervention services to nonverbal children, uses the iPad as well as other devices in its successful speech clinic.

"To witness a nonverbal child begin to open up is a fantastic experience for the parents, for our communication disorders students and for me," said Christie Needham, clinical supervisor of Baldwin Wallace University's Speech Clinic and a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist.

Successful program serving a growing need
In 2007 BW offered a Functional Communications Camp that was a pilot program for children who were nonverbal. It was the only one of its kind in Northeast Ohio. The original plan was for five or six children to participate, But there was such a strong community interest that Needham and her college student clinicians revised the program to allow for more participants.

It is a program that continues to build as the families of the students stayed at the Speech Clinic beyond the initial camp. Today BW communication disorders students work year-round with children who are nonverbal.

Comprehensive clinical experiences at the undergraduate level
BW's Speech Clinic offers excellent preparation for college students interested in that field. It is rare at the undergraduate level for communication disorders students to work with children with multiple handicaps. Yet, BW students have multiple opportunities. According to Needham, even at the graduate level a student may have only one nonverbal client during the entire time he/she is performing clinical duties. BW students will have had two to three such clients over the three semesters he/she is working at the Clinic.

This exposure to a variety of clients plus an average of over 90 clinical contact hours per student (opposed to the national average of 44 hours) at the undergraduate level are what make BW communication disorders students successful in
attaining graduate school acceptance.  In fact, since 1999 over 95 percent of the BW students who have applied to graduate school have been accepted (in comparison to the national average of 34 percent).

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