Giving words to children 'locked out of the world around them'

Parents of young children with language delays may be interested in a free presentation Thursday afternoon by a speech pathologist specializing in "augmented" communication techniques, such as computers that speak or sign language.

Mary Ann Romski, an expert in language disorders in children, will give the annual Goldstick Family Lecture in the Study of Communication Disorders at the University of Illinois at 4 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 28) at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C.

Romski, a professor of communication and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University, has more than 25 years of clinical and research experience in developmental disabilities, early language intervention and augmentative communications for children who have difficulty learning to speak.

She will talk about her current research, which focuses on early language intervention by parents with toddlers who are at extremely high risk for delayed language development.

Romski is the author or co-author of more than 70 research articles and four books, including “Breaking the Speech Barrier: Language Development Through Augmented Means." The book chronicles the story of 13 youth, each starting with fewer than 10 productive words,  whose lives were changed through an augmented-language system.  With their expanded vocabulary, they enjoyed better communication skills and were judged more competent by others.

Augmented communication "extends the power of communication to children otherwise locked out of the world around them," one review said.

The lecture, which is open to the public, will include remarks by Phillip Goldstick; James Halle a professor of special education and the inaugural Goldstick Family Scholar; Mary Kalantzis, dean of the College of Education; and Michaelene Ostrosky, head of the department of special education.

The Goldstick Initiative for the Study of Communication Disorders, funded in 2005 by an endowment from Phillip C. and Beverly Goldstick, of Chicago, supports the sharing of new strategies and practices with families and schools to ensure that children with disabilities live as independently as possible in their homes, neighborhoods and communities.

The Goldsticks’ gift was made in honor of their granddaughter, Marissa, who has Rett syndrome, a genetic developmental disorder that primarily affects girls and impacts cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic brain functions.

 

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