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
“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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