Central to a transformational Baylor education are strategic opportunities for students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world endeavors of service and leadership. Community clinics offered by Baylor’s department of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) are a timehonored example of the University’s commitment to experiential learning that cultivates leadership, deepens understanding and illuminates calling for the benefit of students and those they serve.
Through its five community clinics and a summer program, Camp Success, CSD serves greater Waco with affordable treatments related to speech, language, hearing, literacy and neurorehabilitation. Under the guidance of licensed clinical faculty members, Baylor CSD graduate students provide screenings, consultations and therapies designed to mitigate communication disorders experienced by children and adults.
The Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, begun nearly 50 years ago, specializes in the evaluation and treatment of difficulties related to hearing impairment, voice and articulation disorders, stuttering, verbal or written language challenges and feeding sensitivities. Conditions treated may result from developmental delays, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease or autism. Demand for services is high, with about 160 clients treated each week.
“I see God’s hand in how we change lives every day. Children who were not predicted to complete high school going on to finish college, adults who could no longer communicate to their loved ones begin to speak, and graduate students leaving Baylor to become beacons of light to the world,” said Deborah Rainer, senior lecturer and clinical coordinator of Baylor’s Speech- Language and Hearing Clinic.
The Neurorehabilitation Clinic treats clients each semester for difficulties related to speech, language, cognition and memory, swallowing and voice that result from a neurological impairment, typically stroke. Students design individualized treatments and conduct speech therapy sessions in individual and group settings to improve clients’ ability to communicate. Also offered is the Life Enrichment Program, a one-to two-week long summer program designed to enhance clients’ engagement in and enjoyment of everyday life through group sessions and activities such as arts and crafts, basic computer skills, music, book discussions and cooking.
“We want to help each client improve their communication skills the best they can and give them alternative ways to communicate if necessary,” clinic director Donna Powell said. “It is important to know that what we are doing matters and improves the clients well-being and quality of life.”
The Language and Articulation Preschool Class serves children ages two-and-a-half to five who have moderate to severe speech and language impairments that interfere with learning. Clients receive individualized speech and language stimulation therapies designed by their assigned student-clinician. Provided daily in a preschool class environment, treatments utilize naturally occurring routines, social interactions and storybook units to improve and expand speech and language. Organized outings and activities for clients and their families further enhance the program by fostering community among parents, clients and clinicians.
The Audiology Clinic brings together graduate studentclinicians, licensed audiologists and state-of-the-art diagnostic audiological testing equipment and hearing aid technology to provide comprehensive care to patients of all ages. Services include audiological evaluations and hearing aid consultations as well as the provision of assistive listening devices and accessories, their adjustment and repair.
The Audiology Clinic provides audiological services to Waco Independent School District and, in collaboration with the Sertoma Club and the Lion’s Club, to Central Texas children who could not otherwise afford services. Similarly, together with Waco Ear, Nose and Throat associates, the clinic serves children who are eligible for services through the state Medicaid program. Additional patient referrals originate from area physicians and the state’s Early Childhood Intervention program, but a referral is not required to access the clinic’s services.
The Language and Literacy Clinic serves school-age children who have oral and written language difficulties. Comprehensive speech, language and literacy evaluations determine whether intervention is warranted. Approximately 60 clients per semester receive weekly interdisciplinary treatment comprised of two hours each of language and reading therapy from students supervised by a clinical faculty member. Demand for services is high, with a waiting list of more than 100 prospective clients.
Camp Success is an intensive summer language and literacy intervention program for school-age children who have languagebased reading impairments. Founded in 2003 and made possible by a partnership between Baylor and Waco Scottish Rite Bodies, the program offers research-based, multi-sensory therapies designed and implemented by supervised student-clinicians. Clients participate in four to eight one-hour sessions each week based on their individualized treatment plan.
“Camp Success is a life changing event for everyone: the children and their families participating in this summer program, the graduate and undergraduate students providing the treatment and the faculty,” said Michala Ritter, interim department chair and associate professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders. Citing testimonials that affirm the camp’s effectiveness, she recounted a parent’s recent revelation that her child demonstrates greater confidence and initiative with reading as well as social engagement since participating in Camp Success this year.
For more information about CSD and its clinics, visit bayor.edu/csd.