Temple Ambler to offer Speak Now camp for teens who stutter

Speak Now Summer Education Camp at Temple University Ambler

Your ability to speak betrays you. You know what you want to say, but you’re trapped on a single syllable. A wave of frustration, anxiety and embarrassment wash over you in quick succession as the group you are speaking to responds with a mix of patience and impatience, sympathy and discomfort. The harder you try, the more difficult it becomes. Your anxiety and frustration manifests physically, your lips quivering, your eyes closing unconsciously. A few moments feel like forever.

One out of every 100 people will be affected by stuttering in their lifetime, according to Kim Sabourin, a Clinical Supervisor/Instructor with the Temple University Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“Young children who stutter tend to grow out of it, but if a child is in their teens, they will need to learn to live with stuttering throughout their lives,” said Sabourin, a board certified specialist in fluency disorders. “Many teens who stutter don’t know that — they think they will just grow out of it. We want to help them understand the phenomena of stuttering.”

The Temple University Office of Non-Credit and Special Programs is collaborating with Sabourin and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders to offer “Speak Now,” a one-week summer education camp offered at Temple University Ambler that will begin on Monday, August 11.

“The camp is designed for students ages 10 to 15. The goal is to provide young people who stutter a supportive environment where they can develop their own goals about speaking and stuttering,” said Sabourin. “We want to build confidence and empower them to transition from speech therapy where they are told what to do and how to communicate to becoming responsible for their own treatment.”

Speak Now is one of dozens of new and returning Summer Education Camp programs, which provide kids and teens a broad range of opportunities, from building and programming robots to trying their hands at magic.

For Speak Now, campers should have a documented diagnosis of stuttering from a speech-language pathologist. Parents should contact Sabourin at 215-310-8033 prior to registration to determine if their child is appropriate for enrollment. Register for the Speak Now camp by Monday, June 16, and receive a 10-percent discount off the camp fee.

Speak Now will provide students with therapeutic activities to help them learn more about stuttering; develop their own plan for practice; develop strategies to manage the social and emotional challenges; and learn how to communicate to their parents about stuttering.

“We don’t really know the exact cause of stuttering — we know there is a genetic component; we know there is a neurological base. With stuttering, there is this feeling of tension and they will react to that tension or react to how the people around them are responding to them,” Sabourin said. “Eventually they can build up a lot of other behaviors beyond the basic form of stuttering — closing their eyes, head bobbing, lip quivering. They build up a physical reaction and they can’t control it. The more they try not to stutter, the worse it gets.”

People are often afraid to talk about stuttering, she said, “and that adds to the shame, guilt and panic they sometimes feel.

“They feel embarrassed to let someone know what they are going through. A lot of these kids have been through speech therapy — some of them for years — and they get frustrated and their parents get frustrated because they try to use the tools they’ve learned and ‘It’s not working,’” Sabourin said. “We want to help them to change the way they use those speech tools and learn how to use them more effectively.”

In addition to group meetings, individual therapy sessions and consultations with parents, each day will include guest lecturers, some of whom live successfully with stuttering and have gone on to have great careers as actors, athletes and speech-language pathologists. Confidence-building workshops will help students unlock their inner actor, painter, musician or even (mock) swordfighter.  

“All of the activities are built around the students becoming confident in themselves and their ability to communicate. At the end of the week, the campers will put on a performance for their parents — it can be anything they like as long as they say something during the performance,” Sabourin said. “It’s a way to celebrate the kids and their achievements. We want them to be comfortable with taking some risks when it comes to speaking and to have the knowledge they need to make decisions about their communication goals and future treatment for themselves.”

Now in its 25th year, the Summer Education Camp program is offered in June, July, and August as a series of one-week camps.

“The camps are a fun-filled approach to academic subjects in a small-group setting,” said Rhonda Geyer, Non-Credit Programs Director for Temple University Ambler, Fort Washington and Center City campuses. “They provide a wonderful opportunity for children ages 8 to 12, and young adults through age 17, to learn about a specific area of interest, experience a college campus, and have a lot of fun at the same time.”

The summer camp season for 2014 will explore topics ranging from digital photography, science, writing, and Web site design to robotics, cartooning, multimedia and film and TV. “Jumpstart!” skills building camps will focus on writing and math skills for kids ages 8 to 12. The activities for these camps will be structured around the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). As several offered camps fill up fast, early registration is important.

“With the one-week camp sessions, families can try several different camp programs throughout the summer,” Geyer said. “Children and teens today are interested in so many things that we wanted to offer them the widest variety of fun, educational experiences possible.”

This summer, a variety of full day and half day camp programs will be offered each week. Full day camps will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Half-day camps will run from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. This allows campers the opportunity to stay for the entire day or just come for a part of the day. It also provides flexibility for parents who may need their child in a camp program all day, or just a half-day.

For more information on the Temple University Ambler Summer Education Camp program or to register for camps, call 267-468-8500 or visit us online at www.ambler.temple.edu/camps.