CNY state legislators secure grant for communication devices for children with special needs at SU’s ‘Saturday Clinic’
CNY state legislators secure grant for communication devices for children with special needs at SU’s ‘Saturday Clinic’October 11, 2006Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-50th SD) and Assemblyman Jeff Brown (R-121st AD) have secured a special, one-time $8,000 grant to offset the cost of purchasing specialized communications devices for students and families participating in the School of Education’s monthly Saturday Clinic. The clinic provides ongoing support to families in Central New York in the areas of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and facilitated communication.
Among the many requests for special state funding that cross his desk, DeFrancisco says he found the Saturday Clinic’s grant request particularly worthy of support.
“When Assemblyman Brown came to me and asked if I could secure funding for this much-needed equipment to assist children with special needs, I was eager to help,” says DeFrancisco. “I am confident the equipment will make an important contribution to the Saturday Clinic at Syracuse University.”
The state grant will help procure additional AAC equipment, which currently is in great demand. The new equipment will enhance the clinic’s resources and allow it to loan equipment to families so they can practice at home between clinic sessions.
“I want to thank Sen. DeFrancisco for his interest in this important project and his commitment to help support these efforts,” says Brown. “As the past president of Enable and, more importantly, as the brother of a young woman with disabilities, I understand how important these services are to the children and their family members who are served by the Saturday Clinic, and it was my pleasure to advocate in support of this effort.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Sen. DeFranciso and Assemblyman Brown for their support of our School of Education’s Saturday Clinic,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “As a result of their generous support, Central New York children with special needs and their families will benefit from this much-in-demand technology that helps them learn and develop.”
The Saturday Clinic provides children with communication disabilities and their families an opportunity to develop communication skills by using the specialized AAC equipment. SU graduate and undergraduate students also participate in the clinic to become familiar with the AAC technology and acquire the skills to effectively use the equipment with children and their families.
“One of the most important factors determining a student’s inclusion in school and in the everyday world is the ability to communicate,” says School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen. “We have learned that unless students have a chance to practice with a communication device, it can be very difficult to predict if it will actually suit their needs. This gift helps resolve that difficulty.”
The Saturday Clinic offers families private sessions with a professional or a doctoral student during the fall and spring semesters. To date, more than 18 families with sons or daughters who range in age from 8 years to adult have participated in the clinic. Ninety percent of these families have attended clinic sessions more than once, and 40 percent of these families are regular attendees. Clinic participants are from Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester and Canastota.