Students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have been performing pediatric speech, language, hearing and literacy screenings this summer.
The screenings began in June and ran through early August. The program is funded in part by a Community Service Learning project grant called Rea(DI)ng Uni(VERSITY) from the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. Students helped write the grant, said Angela Kennedy, SLP-D, CCC-SLP, assistant professor and director of clinical education for the department and faculty mentor on the grant.
The program is designed to remove barriers to access speech-language pathology services. Students travel to the communities to perform the screenings, which gives them with the opportunity to develop their own skills while making it easier for parents and caregivers to ensure their children are screened.
“By offering a service near them in a familiar setting in the community, we are able to reach them directly,” said Dr. Kennedy.
The program offers screenings for children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old at six apartment communities in San Antonio and New Braunfels. Participating children each receive a developmentally and age-appropriate book, and their parents and caregivers receive literacy-building skill training resources.
Children who qualify based on their screenings are offered a full speech-language evaluation at no cost, and their parents and caregivers receive personalized resource referrals to make it easier for them to access services in their area. The evaluations also are held on location.
Nick Stafford, a second-year student in the master of speech-language pathology program, said he appreciates the opportunity to put the skills he learned in the classroom to use.
“One of the best things with these onsite and in-person interactions is just experience,” he said. “Interacting with a human being is really essential to be able to look at the individual and be able to assess what they need.”
Erin McDaniel, also a second-year student, performed an evaluation with Stafford during one of the sessions. Even though she did not have much previous experience with pediatrics, she felt ready for the screening experience.
“I felt like I was pretty well prepared for it,” she said.