OKC Metro Program Helps Give Voices To Children With Communication Disabilities

Thursday, October 28th 2021, 6:40 pm


For children, it can become extremely frustrating to know what you want to say, but unable to communicate it. There is a program specifically designed to help with that. 

It’s called iLEAP, an inter-professional language enrichment and pre-kindergarten program. It is located within the John W. Keys Speech and Hearing Center at 1200 N. Stonewall on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus. 

“It serves 2 and a half to 4-year-olds that have communication developmental issues as well as some behavior issues,” said Jane Wilson, University of Oklahoma College of Allied Health dean. 

The program serves as a bridge, preparing children with communication challenges for school. 

“We really want to focus on early intervention and preparing them to go out into their local schools and communities and be able to communicate their daily wants and needs,” said Jessica Lathem, co-director of the iLEAP program.

This program is geared for kids on every level. 

“When they say their 'TH' sound, that may be a sign that we need some intervention,” said Wilson.   

It also supports kids with autism or those who aren’t able to communicate at all.  

“Basically, you can use an iPad app and it talks for them, so we’ll call it their talker. So, you’ll push a button, and they can use it to request what they want,” said Lathem. 

The workers in the program say it is challenging, however the rewards make it all worth it 

“What’s really powerful is when you see a kid who comes in, and they don’t say anything. They’re not able to say any words, and then using the device, or just even sometimes verbally, they’re able to communicate,” said Lathem.  

Click here for information about the program.