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Helping non-verbal children communicate

BEREA, Ohio, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Some U.S. students are getting hands-on experience helping non-verbal children with autism, Rett syndrome, cerebral palsy and/or Down syndrome communicate.

Students majoring in communication disorders at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, participate in a program offering a summer camp that runs two days a week; and a 10-month program that meets once a week during the academic year. The children are functionally non-verbal with an average age of 7 or 8.

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"There is nothing like this program anywhere else in the country," Colleen F. Visconti, chairwoman of the communication program and director of the speech clinic, says in a statement. "Word is spreading and we have already been contacted by parents from across the country expressing interest."

Throughout the sessions the children are encouraged to communicate -- if they can -- with their voices or with technological devices on loan from manufacturers.

"When the families start coming to the program, they've usually tried everything, and nothing is working and their child is still not talking," Christie Needham, clinical supervisor, says. "We have been able to give them the opportunity to see how they're children can succeed in communicating."

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