TOTalk has enabled many Adelphi University students to engage in clinical practice.
TOTalk, a program created in 1998 by Susan Lederer, Ph.D., has helped countless children with speech-language delays while enabling many students at Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education to engage in clinical practice and implement in a classroom what they learn in their studies.
Every semester, Dr. Lederer and other Adelphi professors in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders each supervise a team of three student-clinicians as they work closely with six children and their caregivers in classrooms at Hy Weinberg Center on the Garden City campus. Adelphi allows undergraduate students as well as graduate students to do supervised clinical work, which sets Adelphi apart from most other universities.
Student-clinicians Amanda Castellano, Rachel Fernandes and Rebecca Nuzzi worked with toddlers in a TOTalk program supervised by Dr. Lederer during the Fall 2013 semester. Dr. Lederer, who also created the programs KIDTalk and PreRead, videotapes each weekly 90-minute session—to aid in treating the children, edifying the parents and training the student-clinicians.
“Often, I’m the stage manager in the classroom,” said Dr. Lederer, the author of I Can Do That, I Can Say That and I Can Play That, books used to treat children with speech-language challenges. Each book won a Mom’s Choice Award and will be reissued in paperback by Dynamic Resources LLC/Read with Me Press. “I never know which student-clinicians I’ll be supervising during a semester. I was fortunate to have Amanda, Rebecca and Rachel.”
“At first, I was nervous because you sometimes hear stories that clinicians don’t work well together,” Ms. Fernandes said. “But the three of us just clicked.”
Ms. Castellano, Ms. Fernandes and Ms. Nuzzi all hail from Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Castellano and Ms. Fernandes both will earn a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders in May 2014. Ms. Nuzzi, who works as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn, received her undergraduate degree from St. Joseph’s College. As part of Adelphi’s program in which graduate students take classes on Sundays year-round, Ms. Nuzzi is pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and a bilingual certification that will enable her to work with children who learn in English or Spanish.
“I was accepted by seven graduate schools,” Ms. Nuzzi said, “but I chose Adelphi because it had the most welcoming environment. People here really care about you.”
At the end of the 12-week TOTalk program, Dr. Lederer and her team of student-clinicians met with the parents to solicit feedback and reinforce lessons learned.
“It felt so rewarding to be thanked by the parents and know that we made a difference in helping their children,” Ms. Castellano said.
To sing the praises of Dr. Lederer for her invaluable role in training three future speech-language practitioners, Ms. Castellano, Ms. Fernandes and Ms. Nuzzi say they intend to post a YouTube video of themselves singing the songs in Dr. Lederer’s award-winning books.
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