A new program at Laughlin Children’s Center is giving children with speech and language disorders an opportunity to develop better social communication skills.
The Chatterbug Club—a service offered through the Sewickley-based center— begins on Oct. 10 and is open to children ages 4 to 6 years old.
Karen Tecco Graham, a certified speech therapist at Laughlin, who runs the program, said the weekly group sessions will primarily benefit children with a diagnosis in place, but can also help children with social difficulties.
“It’s a small group therapy program that focuses on how kids improve their social communication skills,” Graham said.
The goal of the Chatterbug Club is to help pre-K children develop better socialization and communication using individualized lessons like taking turns, asking appropriate questions, carrying on a conversation, expressing emotions and making friends.
Using weekly themes, such as friendships, the hour-long sessions are tailored to meet individual needs while working as a group to build the necessary skills for effective communication.
Graham said children in the Chatterbug Club will play games, participate in role playing and dramatic play in addition to other activities to practice social skills in a fun way.
“We’ll probably do some crafts, some cooking, those types of things to work on following directions, and then sharing all the food we make with each other and just having conversation in that kind of format, sitting down together as a group…a lot of different things. It won’t be the same every day,” she said.
About 15 years ago, two therapists at Laughlin ran a similar program that was only for children who had autism. Graham said this program is a little different because it’s open to younger children and collaborates input from Laughlin’s psychology clinicians.
Children on the autism spectrum or who have attention deficit disorders will predominantly benefit from the 10-week session.
“I think it’ll be a neat opportunity for some of these kids who need that little extra. It will be a fun program for them and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Chatterbug Club
The first set of sessions run Oct. 10 to Dec. 19 at Laughlin Children's Center, 424 Frederick Ave., Sewickley. The club will meet from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., and the cost is $300 per child. An evaluation may be necessary to determine the unique needs of your child. Evaluations will be billed separately and may be eligible for insurance reimbursement or coverage.
Contact Laughlin Children's Center at 412-741-4087 for more information, and to learn about Laughlin's financial aid program.