Pirate SP.E.E.CH camp provides enjoyable experiences for children with autism

By 6 months of age, an infant can usually babble and produce repetitive syllables. A typical 18-month-old can say 50 to 100 words, and by age 2, children are putting words together in one or two word sentences.  At ages 3, 4, and 5 a child’s vocabulary quickly increases, and he or she begins to grasp the rules of language. 

Though speech and language skills develop pretty much the same way for all children, the pace can vary from child to child.

Sometimes children may develop speech disorders.  According to the American Speech and Hearing Association, communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in the US. Often, no one knows the causes.

Many communication problems can be improved by therapy.  Significant communication deficits, such as autism, require intensive intervention.  About 1 in 88 American children have autism or similar disorders, and the prevalence in North Carolina is even higher, according to new estimates from the Centers For Disease Control.

In an effort to provide a fun, but intensive therapeutic environment for children from 4 to 9 years of age with documented speech/language deficits, including children on the Autism Spectrum, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders operates a 5-week summer Pirate SP.E.E.CH. Camp (SPeech/language Education and Enrichment for CHildren).

The children receive intervention to improve communication skills through group language activities, art projects, and fine and gross motor activities.  Weekly themes such as Circus Week, Music Week, and Beach Week set the tone for the activities. 

The camp provides a learning environment for CSDI graduate students who plan and implement the camp activities with supervision from licensed speech-language pathologists.  Undergraduate students and community volunteers also participate. The camp receives significant financial support from the Autism Society of North Carolina.

For further information, please contact Julie Morrow at 252-744-6145 or morrowj@ecu.edu.

— Julie Morrow
Speech-Language Clinical Coordinator
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders