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More Than Words Can Say

Photo courtesy of the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center

Feb 20, 2014
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Referred to the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center by the speech-language therapist at her son's school for his speech disfluency, Stella Fernandez can't say enough about how grateful she is for the clinicians and staff.

"They are very friendly and knowledgeable, they are sure to keep the parents informed of their child's progress and they always welcome my input and feedback. I don't know what I would do without them," says Fernandez. Her son has received services at the Center for the past few years and she appreciates the progress her son has made. She adds, "The students from the Pacific speech-language pathology program are the top of their class."

The Center has been providing speech and language services free of charge to children in the Stockton community for more than 30 years. The facility is one of 14 Childhood Language Centers operated by the California Scottish Rite Foundation. The Pacific Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) department has partnered with the Foundation over the last decade and a half to provide services to more than 3,200 children and over 60,000 hours of therapy with a value of service estimated at over $4.5 million.

Jennifer Kwan's daughter has been receiving therapy at the Center for the past three years. As a kindergartner, Kwan's daughter was having difficulties with "r" articulation along with a few other sounds. "My daughter attends a private school," Kwan explains. "I tried desperately to get her speech services through the local school district." Her daughter was tested, but didn't qualify for services due to the number of children being referred. Kwan heard about the Center from a family friend. "We have been very satisfied and are grateful for their services. The Center was one of the few options we had," says Kwan. "My daughter loves coming and has made a lot of progress; she feels more confident speaking at school," she adds.

"The Center continues to provide help to children of the greater Stockton community by allowing them to communicate, to hear, to understand; to bring them into the mainstream and to lead a functional and normal life," says W. Ronald Coale, 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Coale is a 50-year member of Stockton Scottish Rite and a former Personal Representative of the Sovereign Grand Inspector General in California for the Stockton Scottish Rite Bodies.

A member of the Center's executive board overheard Nicole Bojorques talking about her son's speech disorder and recommended she look into the Center. She explained that her son started displaying characteristics of a speech disorder very early; he started to stutter just after learning to speak. Bojorques says that her son, now 8 years old, "has made tremendous improvements toward speaking
without stuttering. We owe a lot to the Center."

While serving as the Personal Representative for the Stockton Scottish Rite, Coale along with SLP Department Chair, Dr. Robert Hanyak '79, built the partnership with the primary focus of serving children with communicative impairments and disorders. Coale explains, "This partnership was to assure quality speech-language pathology services to individuals of the community, utilizing best practices, current research and individualized client-centered treatment planning."

He is proud of what the Foundation's partnership with Pacific has accomplished. "First and foremost the Center has dedicated, committed and the most knowledgeable student clinicians and supervisors. The clinicians are referred to as miracle workers; they are the true professionals in administering their work and treatment of the children."

The Center receives referrals from numerous sources including schools, health professionals, word of mouth and even the Yellow Pages. "We run three sessions each year," explains Heidi Germino '90, '92 Clinical Director of the Center. Sessions are twice a week for 50 minutes. "In the summer, we have an Aural Rehabilitation Camp for patients who are hearing impaired," says Germino. The camp is run by students in the 24-month masters program; it is significant because students are not always able to practice this particular therapy. The idea grew out of a need for patients with hearing impairment. "It isn't required for program accreditation, but as a department we feel it is really important for our students to have this exposure," Germino adds.

Patrick Kevin O'Hern, Personal Representative to the Sovereign Grand Inspector General of California, oversees all aspects of operations at the Stockton Scottish Rite, which includes the Childhood Language
Disorders Center and its relationship with University of the Pacific. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Center. He feels that the relationship with University of the Pacific is essential for the
proper operation of the childhood language center.

"The executive committee and board of directors recognize the expertise the University provides," says O'Hern. "The University's direction and management of the Center provide a professional operation for the children while giving the speech-language pathology department a working environment for the student clinicians," he adds. The Center provides the Pacific SLP program with an additional eight rooms complete with diagnostic equipment and therapy tools needed for both undergraduate and graduate SLP student-clinicians. "Our program wouldn't be as large as it is without the additional clinic space provided by the Center," explains Germino. Among her many duties as Clinical Director, she is responsible for recruiting the clinical instructors (supervisors); most of whom are practicing speech-language pathologists. Germino is proud of the supervisors, "I seek out the people I know are going to be good teachers. Therapists I know have a relevant and current perspective of our profession." Seven of the nine current supervisors also happen to be alumni of the Pacific SLP program.

As part of the student-clinicians' final exam they are expected to create games for patients who receive ervices at the Center. The students are graded on how effectively the activities help the patients work toward their speech and language goals. "It's a fun day," comments Germino. "They've worked hard all semester, both the patients and the students, but they are still working hard. It's not a free day." Hugo Haro appreciates the effort, "I really enjoy the creativity that each therapist brings every semester." Haro's 7-year-old son has been receiving treatment he couldn't get elsewhere for his Autism socialization needs. "The Pacific student-clinicians have been very accommodating in helping us through the different phases of our son's Autism," says Haro. He added, "They have made me aware of other issues that were of concern but my son did not know how to express it without their assistance."

Julie Smith's son was also diagnosed with Autism and struggled with many issues. She came to the Center through a recommendation from another mother. "I've found that the Center does more than just address speech, but many other social aspects of the Autism spectrum disorder as well. He is taught in a way that is so intriguing and interactive as well as positively reinforced," shares Smith. "I received the referral to the Center at a time when I was totally frustrated with what was available to us through our insurance company," she explains. "I would not have had access to service like this if not for the Center; they are always taking my son to the next level."

"The parents and children of the community are assured we will be there for them when the need arises," O'Hern emphasizes.

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