education and service

The department of communication sciences and disorders is addressing needs in Southwest Virginia. The demand for graduates of the program to work in public schools, residential nursing facilities and comprehensive hospitals exceeds the number available. In addition to the speech therapy practitioner shortage, the department is addressing the shortage of services for the uninsured and underinsured in the region. “The Speech and Hearing Clinic has worked in the background of the New River Valley for more than two decades serving the disadvantaged of our communities,” says Raymond Linville, associate dean and director of the Waldron College’s School of Allied Health. In many local communities, the clinics offer the only services patients can afford. “The notion of giving something back to the community through public service is instilled deeply in our students,” says Linville.

Senior communication sciences and disorders student Brent Wilson is planning to attend graduate school after completing his bachelor’s degree in May. “I’m fascinated with how language works,” he says. “It’s what separates us from other animals on Earth. To be able to help a child better communicate in school or a stroke victim recover his speech is very rewarding.”

Last summer more than a dozen children received speech therapy during the Scottish Rite Summer Language Clinic, sponsored by Waldron College and the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Foundation. For eight weeks, RU graduate students introduced youngsters aged two to seven to books and interactive activities to help them overcome language difficulties. Parents were encouraged to attend the clinic and learn new ways to help their children. Dawn McWoodard-Vladyka was amazed at how the clinic helped her son. “I’ve had Ryan in speech therapy since he was two to two and a half, and I have never seen a program like this. This is beyond awesome, beyond cool, and I can’t even think of the word to describe it. Ryan is already improving. He continues to improve. He’s actually sitting down and reading books, which we’ve always had problems with.”

RU’s clinic is one of 160 clinics, programs and centers the Scottish Rite supports throughout the United States. David Kruger, of the Scottish Rite, says “the summer clinics have been a wonderful way for helping the children. They also give our membership a period in time to see the effort they put into it and the results here at Radford University. It’s a wonderful situation for everybody and we’re so proud to be a part of the program at Radford.”

Professor Lynn Adams has big dreams to help even more children in a program she’s planning for children with autism. She now serves 10 children with varying degrees of autism, but there are many more who need to be included. “More and more kids are being diagnosed with this disorder,” says Adams. “The children need this center. It also helps students, not just in this department, but in education, special education, psychology and counselor education, to gain knowledge and experience in working with these children.” Close to $55,000 a year in private donations or grants will be needed for the program. “Autism has always been such a mystery to me and has always fascinated me,” says Adams. “I have success in helping these children and if I had my choice I would work with them exclusively — that would be my dream job.”

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