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UCF Offers Intensive Summer Reading Camp For Children with Disabilities

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By Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

Children with severe disabilities in reading, writing or spelling can participate in an intensive summer program that the University of Central Florida will offer in east Orange County beginning June 11.

This is the first time UCF's Communication Disorders Clinic will be offering the six-week program. The goal is to provide children who have severe disabilities in reading with intensive therapy during the summer - a time when they can focus their energy on therapy with fewer distractions than during the school year.

"A summer program can be more intensive, and research shows the more intense the intervention, the more effective it is," said Sally Giess, a clinical instructor at UCF who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of reading disabilities.

If enough children are enrolled, the intensive reading program will be held June 11 through July 18 at the UCF Communication Disorders Clinic located in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to UCF's East Orlando campus. The program will run three days a week for three hours a day and will target children in grades three to eight who have been diagnosed with language-learning disabilities or specific reading disabilities.

The program is limited to the first 24 children who register. The deadline to apply is May 8. The cost of the program is $1,650, but a limited number of parents can get a reduced rate according to a sliding scale. The reduction would be based on parental income.  Camps for children with disabilities are difficult to find and organizers hope to these sessions will help meet the need especially at summer time.

"We came up with the idea out of a desire to provide a needed service to the community and to help children make optimum progress," Giess said. "It's also a good way to give our graduate students exposure to an intensive program."

The program will include individual therapy sessions based on the specific needs of each child, as well as group therapy sessions that will focus more intensely on reading fluency, reading comprehension and writing.

The Communication Disorders Clinic at UCF offers a full array of evaluation and treatment options year-round for people of all ages. Those services include helping people who stutter and helping people recover after strokes.

"The parents I speak with are very concerned about their children's progress in school," Giess said. "Either the children are receiving school-based reading services but still need extra support or the children do not qualify for school-based services, yet still need intervention. A lot of progress can be made with quality therapy early on."

Summer is a perfect time because clinicians can capitalize on the free time many children have during the school break.

For more information or to register, call Sue Campbell at 407-249-4770.

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