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Tulsa Area Play Groups for Children with Special Needs

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“He’s doing something that interests him,” another parent responded. 

Following the outing at Purple Glaze Studios a parent stated, “My child enjoyed today. He’s learning new stuff, learning to create and not destroy.” 

Another parent of a child who is learning to use sign language told the research team, “She is actually saying Thank You!” 

The Home Depot outing was a big success with both parents and the participants. “I like he gets to do boy things,” one parent explained. 

Another parent stated, “This is good. My son gets to work on something else besides painting and drawing.” 

Following the last playgroup meeting for the spring semester, four out of the six parents made a comment regarding how their son or daughter really enjoyed the interactions with other children.

This project was selected for presentation at the ASHA convention being held in San Diego, California in November 2011. This research project provides evidence for parents and speech-language pathologists that children can improve and enhance speech and language skills by just being children with a little support. 

Parents should not hesitate to ask their child’s speech-language pathologist for specifics regarding target sounds or language skills and find way to incorporate them into activities that the family already does.

Children should be given the opportunity to be around their peers. Although it is true that an 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome may not be able to do math problems or read as an 8-year-old boy without Down syndrome because of brain development differences, who is to know if both boys would like the same superheroes or Disney characters or not unless they are allowed to share information with one another? Allowing children to interact with other children, providing information about what will happen and how long it will last, and limiting the number of rules to follow are good techniques for parents to use when out in the community.

If you are interested in having your child participate in a playgroup through the Mary K. Chapman Center for Communicative Disorders, please contact Dr. Sandra Wright, assistant professor, at 918-631-2903 or through email at sandra-wright@utulsa.edu.

10 Tips for parents with children with communication disorders:

  1. Be clear in your expectations: kids can’t always read between the lines.
  2. Get other kids involved! See if you can connect with other families and each do an outing once a week for a month.
  3. Preview what is going to happen and where. Use images availabe online to create a word document or power point that shows your child what will happen.
  4. Limit the number of rules your child must remember. Be consistent.
  5. Call locations in advance to see if there are special tours or events, and explain any disability that may be present so they are aware.
  6. Don’t be ashamed or embarrased if your child has a communication disorder: it is an opportunity for you (and your child) to teach others.
  7. Ask for help! If you feel uncomfortable with your child in a large group of other children, see if you can get some support help. Contact your local high school National Honor Society chapter; they have students looking for volunteer opportunities.
  8. Educate your child about the communication skill that needs to be improved:  empowering your child.
  9. Provide alternate ways of communicating (pictures, gestures, printed words) if you are wanting feedback from your child. Sometimes finding the right words, or saying the words right can be frustrating and cause a child to become less interactive.
  10. Take a few risks: it is okay to get dirty, fall sometimes, make mistakes, eat something we shouldn’t (who else has eaten a mud pie?), get paint on his or her clothes, etc. You might be surprised at what your child can do.
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