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WT Grad Students strive to address shortfall of speech-language pathologists

WT Grad students who have an interest in educating kids with challenges run a specialized camp to earn credited hours (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

To help address a shortfall of qualified licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologist in the state of Texas, grad students at West Texas A&M University are running the fifth annual “Buff Up Your Speech” camp. The summer therapy program is for kids between the ages of 3 and 10 who have a deficit in language and or speech. The camp provides therapy to help the kids with improving language and articulation skills. The camp is held inside the Virgil Henson Activities Center in Canyon.

“I got interested into this field because my grandmother had a stroke,” said Briana Pitre, grad student at WT. “I watched her work with the speech path and I thought it was real interesting.”

“My mom and my uncle have hearing impairments and seeing how they adjusted to that definitely played a huge role in choosing this field,” said Robbi Barnett, WT grad student.

The grad students tell ABC 7 News there is no overnight cure which is why therapy and games are vital to improving language and articulation skills.

“As the two weeks goes by it really progresses,” said Pitre. “The kids get to really know us and we get to know the students. It’s a great relationship by the end of the camp.”

“Providing different strategies and tools to help the children with the problems they may face while also sending home programs for parents to work on, it may not cure this but it will help them,” said Barnett.

This marks the fifth year of the camp. The two week long program the kids attend helps fill in a gap for campers who are on summer break and out of school. The grad students who have a personal connection to someone diagnosed with an articulation or language disorder are a step closer to working in a respective field in need of more professionals.

“It gives them the opportunity to earn clinical hours so they can graduate but also the skills needed to prepare and plan and carryout a camp,” said Traci Fredman, program director.

There are a number of requirements for grad students to achieve before becoming a licensed speech language pathologists in the state of Texas.

1) A Master’s Degree from a program accredited by a national accrediting organization.

2) 400 hours of supervised clinical practicum.

3) 3.36 weeks of full-time supervised professional experience.

4) Passing of an examination.

5) Criminal Background check.

6) Applicants must submit proof of successful completion of the jurisprudence examination at the time of the application.


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