UT Dallas hosts Camp Interact for children with communication deficiencies

The University of Texas Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders recently ran Camp Interact, an opportunity for children with communication deficits to learn how to handle situations they will be presented with in the upcoming school year.

“They're not great at reading other people's body language or facial expressions, so they might take a message literally when it's not meant to be,” Callier Center Speech-Language Pathologist Rachel Wehner, the camp’s director, said. “A lot of times they might also have trouble when they don't get their way – more so than other kids their age might have…We work on peer interaction, conversation skills, working together in a group, problem-solving and emotional regulation skills, And we do it in a kind of camp environment so they have more time to practice.”

The camp is structured, in terms of length and patterns, like a typical elementary school day, allowing students to practice the skills they are using while learning and taking part in activities like visits from the fire department and a robotics expert from UT Dallas. On the last day of the camp, parents visited and met with counselors to learn about the strategies their children had learned.

“If the parent or teacher encounters a similar difficulty, she can say, ‘What size is this problem? What strategy can you use? Or are you being a thinking-of-others person? Are you a flexible thinker?’” Wehner said. “Hopefully the children will automatically think back to what they did at camp and be able to calm or regulate whatever it is that they're struggling with.”

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