Company/Organization: Bergen County Special Services: Tri-Valley
Mentor(s):Ms. Lauren Bay
Topic of Internship
Speech Therapy for Children with Autism
Bergen County Special Services (BCSS) is a special education public school district serving the educational needs of classified students ages 3 to 21 from Bergen County, New Jersey. Their goal is to help students throughout the county with unique social, emotional, physical, intellectual and career needs by creating a better school and home environment. BCSS offers many different programs for areas like Behavior Skills, Life Skills, Communication Skills, and Autism. The Tri-Valley program is a branch of the Autism Continuum and they mainly work in the towns of Bergenfield and Dumont and have classrooms at the local public schools. The program offers students highly individualized instructional formats based upon the principles of ABA. Services include occupational, physical, and speech therapies; family training; home program coordination; and, augmentative communication assessment. Programs include language, social, behavioral, and academic development. The secondary program utilizes the support services of a full-time job coach to assist students with internships, as well as employment experiences within local communities.
Summary of Internship
For my internship, I worked with the speech therapist that is stationed at Bergenfield High School, where there are three classrooms designated for Tri-Valley. A typical day consists of sitting in on several speech sessions with the students and often times engaging in the activities that were being done. For example, if the students were learning about conversational skills, I would participate whenever I could to help them make the appropriate response and ask the appropriate questions when talking to someone. Each speech session is specifically designed for that student because they all have unique needs that need to be addressed with a just as unique lesson plans. Non-verbal students use communication devices, usually iPads, which have an app on them called Prolequo that speaks for them. Some of the students’ programs are more advanced than others and contain more words and phrases, but regardless, our job is to help them utilize the program during their everyday lives. For other students, they may be verbal, but they too have a unique need that has to be worked on, like volume, inflection and concept understanding of some words, like “yes” and “no.” A more advanced group of students may be able to speak just fine, so we mainly focus on improving their understanding of functional vocabulary. With those students we focus on things like idioms, homophones and negation and like previously stated, communication skills. With my internship I was able to get an in depth look at working with children with autism and the patience and skills necessary for this kind of work. I am so fortunate to have been given this experience and even more fortunate to have such an amazing mentor who only enhanced my experience.
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