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Inclusive Summer Camp Pilot Project: Introduction and Design

Author-Avatar Kim Elliott

1/15/2020 7:58 PM

What is the Project?
This was a collaboration between the Community Vision Assistive Technology (AT) Lab, Portland State Speech & Hearing Department, Portland Parks & Recreation, and SUN Schools to create a local, affordable day camp that is accessible and welcoming to children with CCN who have physical disabilities. It was funded through a grant from the Oregon Scottish Rite in collaboration with Portland State Speech & Hearing Sciences Program.

Why was the Pilot Project Developed?

There are summer camps that specialize in AAC supports, which can be a fun and effective way for children who use AAC to have lots of opportunities to learn and use their AAC systems and for them to meet other AAC users! However, there are few camp opportunities in the Pacific NW for children with CCN to join their speaking peers within their own communities in an accessible and affordable program. Fees for attending SUN camps range between $52 - $80 for an entire week, with full scholarships available for those in financial need. These fees are far more affordable than private camps and, inclusion of children with CCN in camps based in their communities, is more equitable, given these are the same fees paid by other families in their neighborhood.

How the Project was Designed?

The Children:

6 children with CCN and physical disabilities signed up for the project. They had varying degrees of experience with their AAC systems, a variety of language levels, and diverse physical abilities. Their ages ranged from 6 – 10 years old. Examples of their AAC systems were: PRC Accent 1000 SGD, 84 cell Unity with direct selection; Go Talk Now app on iPad set up for direct selection in a 4 cell layout with a white board for quick choice making; Tobii Dynavox eye gaze SGD and large visual symbols for quick choice making; Go Talk Now app on iPad with high contrast symbols accessed with 2 switch step scanning or Partner Assisted Auditory Scanning; Auditory Scanning PODD book; multiple children used Partner Assisted Auditory Scanning; multiple children regularly used a Step-by-Step(SBS) communicator for quick, social participation.

Graduate Students:

4 SLP graduate students, who were interested in AAC clinical experience, and who had just completed the graduate AAC class, participated in the project. In addition to the Graduate AAC Summer Intensive class, they were provided with a day of orientation to look at specific AAC tools in the summer camp setting, and to learn about adapting activities and the environment. The orientation occurred on the Monday of the “Get-to-know-you Week” (GTKY Week – see below). Also, during the orientation day, the students were given information on each of the children with CCN, camp curriculum, and were tasked with thinking about possible adaptations to be trialed during the GTKY week.

Get-to-know-you (GTKY) Week:

The children attended three 1.5 hour pre-camp play sessions at the AT Lab in Portland. They were grouped according to age (3 younger children attended a morning session and 3 older children attended an afternoon session). This was arranged secondary to space constraints at the Lab but, retrospectively, was deemed beneficial to help the Grad students get to know the children’s physical access to activities and their AAC systems.During the GTKY week, the grad students worked 1:1 with the children, talked to parents and caregivers, and began exploring ways to adapt activities, and to learn each of their AAC systems. Specifically, the students practiced programming SBS communicators, anticipating this as a tool that could be frequently used in the camp setting. They also learned how to support Partner Assisted Auditory Scanning (PAAS), as this can be a difficult concept to grasp without practice.On the Friday of the GTKY week, the grad students and their supervisor visited the SUN Camp to see the environment teeming with campers and staff and to see how some activities were organized. The supervisor had done a site visit many months prior, but went to see how the space was organized with a camp day full of children and summer staff.

Camp Week:

The 6 children with CCN attended one week of regularly scheduled SUN camp at Faubion School in NE Portland, with the option to add additional weeks if they wanted. The 4 grad students worked with the children with CCN and also coordinated with Portland Parks & Rec Inclusion staff to train them on each of the campers’ specific communication supports and activity adaptations. Results of this adult-heavy set-up will be discussed in the reflections and next steps section

The first picture below shows an adapted art activity during GTKY Week, followed by the logos of our project partners, and a collage of pictures from camp.

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