Rachel became well-acquainted with Susan Lederer, Ph.D., as a student-clinician in Tot Talk in the Fall 2013 semester.
by Cecil Harris“I didn’t want to be just a number. I wanted to have my name associated with a professor. That’s what Adelphi does.”—Rachel Fernandes
Rachel Fernandes decided early on to pursue a career as a speech-language practitioner.
My sister has autism, so I knew growing up that this is what I wanted to do,” Ms. Fernandes said. “I want to help other children as much as I help my sister. For me, this is a calling.”
When choosing a college, Ms. Fernandes saw Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education as an ideal fit. Adelphi students receive plenty of individual attention as part of a close-knit academic community, and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders on the Garden City campus is one of the few college programs to offer clinical training to undergrads.
“I went to a small high school, and that’s what I wanted in a college,” said Ms. Fernandes, a graduate of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge Prep. “I didn’t want to be just a number. I wanted to have my name associated with a professor. That’s what Adelphi does. I can walk up to any professor and they’ll say, ‘Hi, Rachel. How are you?’’’
Ms. Fernandes became well-acquainted with Susan Lederer, Ph.D., as a student-clinician in the Fall 2013 semester. TOTalk, a program created by Dr. Lederer in 1998, helps late-talking toddlers develop communication skills through various language-intervention methodologies, including focused stimulation in which a clinician reduces the amount of words introduced to a child and repeats those words until the child learns their meaning. Dr. Lederer has also created similar programs, KIDTalk and PreRead.
Working with fellow student-clinicians Amanda Castellano and Rebecca Nuzzi and supervised by Dr. Lederer, Ms. Fernandes treated six toddlers with speech-language delays and advised their caregivers in a series of 12 classroom sessions of 90 minutes each.
“After a semester, you really build a relationship with the children,” Ms. Fernandes said. “We also have a conference with the parents at the end. You always start with the positives. Yet there are no negatives. There are language skills that are emerging. They just haven’t been developed yet.”
Ms. Fernandes is set to earn a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders in May 2014. Then she’ll pursue a master’s degree, most likely in a familiar place.
“I plan to attend graduate school and I’ve been accepted to Adelphi,” Ms. Fernandes said. “I’m very excited.”
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