Patients of all ages come from surrounding communities for low-cost treatment of hearing, speech and language issues at Adelphi’s Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders.
The game “Name That Tune,” where players guess the title of a song based on just a few notes, may help jog memories. For people with speech and language disorders, the simple game can help strengthen communication skills—and change lives.
The game is just one of the immersive activities offered at Adelphi’s Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders, which provides speech-language and hearing evaluations and intervention for people of all ages. The center is also a clinical training ground for undergraduates and graduate students studying for careers in speech-language pathology and audiology in Adelphi’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. The students, together with their supervisors, consistently research best practices when developing their clients’ evaluations and treatment.
The center provides an important service in the community by offering its services for a nominal administrative fee.
“Some of our clients are on limited income or fixed income,” says Anne Marie Skvarla, director of the Hy Weinberg Center. “So this opens our services up to individuals who really can’t afford a fee-for-service clinic or a private clinician. That is certainly a huge asset that we have in terms of providing services to the community.”
The center helps roughly 175 to 200 community members each semester. While many come from Long Island towns close to Adelphi, others come from nearby Queens and Brooklyn, and even from as far away as Westchester County, New York. Most people find out about these programs through other community members, Adelphi students, schools and physicians who refer patients for treatment.
“We provide innovative individual and group therapy programs for people across the life span,” Skvarla says.
The TOTalk program, for example, uses story time, group play, and music and movement to help young children better express themselves. These groups usually contain five children, each accompanied by a parent or caregiver. The KIDTalk program is similar, but it’s for older children who are ready for group activities without their parents.
Parents observe their children through video monitors as they participate in activities to expand their language skills. “The parents can then carry these lessons over at home and help model the behaviors,” Skvarla says.
Social communication support groups are also offered for children and teens who have difficulty communicating with peers because of social-language deficits such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders or autism spectrum disorder.
“These groups are amazing,” Skvarla says. “A lot of the groups have been together for a while and the parents have formed close relationships. They’ll take the kids out bowling or to get a hamburger after. And they very much support each other.”
The center also offers services for adults who have trouble speaking due to a stroke, head injury, or an acute or progressive neurological disease like Parkinson’s disease or primary progressive aphasia.
“I was just watching one of these groups, and the clients were participating in an activity similar to ‘Name That Tune,’ ” Skvarla says. “They were also looking at movie clips and identifying who was in the movie. These activities help improve the group members’ word-finding and memory skills, among other things. The clients help each other out a lot, too. They’ll give each other clues and support through their struggles and successes.”
The center further provides complete audiological evaluations as well as hearing aid evaluations and dispensing. “We receive referrals from local hospitals for follow-up with infants who failed their newborn hearing screenings,” Skvarla says. “And we also offer individual and group aural rehab for individuals with hearing deficits affecting their daily functioning and quality of life.
The Transgender Voice Group, at the Manhattan Center, provides a safe and supportive setting for individuals in the transgender community who wish to modify their voices efficiently and without effort.
“The Hy Weinberg Center provides our students with an opportunity to see clients early in their graduate program, with the support of ASHA [American Speech-Language-Hearing Association] certified and [New York State] licensed clinical faculty on campus,” Skvarla says. “So they get valuable training that prepares them for their careers in speech-language pathology.” This real-world experience also teaches students how to collect data that can be used to advance practices in the profession.
Skvarla hopes the center will continue to grow to meet the needs of students and the community, especially by incorporating more technology. It has already begun offering Telepractice virtual sessions to clients who can’t come in person.
“The clinic’s number one responsibility to the students and to the community is to deliver best practice,” Skvarla says. “We continually search for ways to provide the most effective training and the most effective intervention and care to our clients. That never stops.”
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