Listen Camp Connects Children Experiencing Hearing Loss

Founded by faculty member and speech-language pathologist Linda Sasser, FSU’s L.L. Schendel Speech and Hearing Clinic hosted its first-ever Listen Camp in late July. Partnering with the FSU School of Communication Science and Disorders graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology, the camp provided fun activities for eight campers suffering with hearing loss.

Aged from kindergarten to third grade, each of the campers were paired with an FSU graduate student to help them throughout each day of the camp. Using a listening and spoken language approach for communication, the camp helped connect these children with others who also experience hearing loss through arts and crafts, music and dance, outdoor activities, and by receiving listening and speech-language therapy.

Interacting with other children experiencing hearing loss is a life-changing experience for a child with the disability–oftentimes the student may be the only child at their school wearing a hearing aid or suffering from hearing loss. With advances in hearing technology, children with hearing loss are able to learn to listen and speak and perform similarly to their hearing peers. They are able to participate in mainstream classes (vs. ESE classes) in their home zone school and may be the only child in their school with hearing loss. The camp allows them to meet other children who also have hearing loss while improving their listening, speech, and language skills. Being surrounded by others with the same disability helps the children see that they are not alone.

Cambea Chan, a mother of one of the children at the Listen Camp, told a reporter from WCTV that camps like these are life-changing. She said, “This is a different world that kids grow up in and they just want to belong wherever they go. This is the first opportunity [my daughter] has had to be around kids with hearing aids.”

Graduate students in the Communication Science and Disorders program have to earn 400 clock hours of clinical experience which includes hours of working with clients who have hearing loss. At the FSU Speech and Hearing Clinic, graduate students have the rare opportunity to train with a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certified in Auditory Verbal Therapy.  The camp gave students an opportunity to plan and deliver therapeutic services to children, both individually and in a group setting. It was a unique experience for them.

“On Friday of the camp, parents were invited to watch their kids sing and dance to our camp songs,” said Sasser. “Some parents exchanged phone numbers so they could schedule ‘play dates’ for their kids. The Clinic also hosts a family support group once a semester so the children and parents will have the opportunity to meet up soon. The fall meeting is scheduled for October 28th at the Delta Zeta House on FSU’s campus.”

With generous support from FSU Foundation Board of Trustees and 31 individual donors through SparkFSU, the camp ran for one week in July at the FSU Reservation.