At the Scottish Rite Center for Childhood Language Disorders, Children’s National speech- language pathologists (SLPs) work with children and their parents to improve communication and quality of life. The Center sees more than 800 families a year, working on a variety of speech and language challenges and incorporating play into communication learning.
“Communication molds who a child is,” says Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. PhD, Director of the Scottish Rite Center. “What we do every day makes a difference in a child’s life.”
The 15-member team at Scottish Rite is comprised of audiologists, SLPs, and support staff, and is dedicated to overall wellness and parent training. Clinicians work to teach parents how to incorporate language learning into their daily lives, how to talk to their children, and how to have meaningful interactions with their children.
“We’re training parents as well as children,” says Dr. Robinson. “Many people have never interacted with a child prior to having one, so we spend a lot of time teaching them how to facilitate auditory and language learning skills.”
Scottish Rite is unique because of its large population of Spanish-speaking patients and families. More than half of the families that come to Scottish Rite are Spanish-speaking and the bilingual SLPs at Scottish Rite are able to work with those families in their native language.
“We are unique because we are working with a varied population and we are able to offer speech and language services in Spanish as well as English,” says speech-language pathologist Vanessa Versailles. “No one else is offering that, and it’s a need in our community.”
Working with Schools
In addition to offering services at the Scottish Rite Center, Children’s National SLPs also work in the Washington, DC Public Schools to offer speech and language services to children during school hours. LaShundra Collins has been with Children’s National for 14 years and works within the DC Public Schools to offer services to those students.
“What’s very special about the work we do in the schools is that we are able to be the liaison between parents and teachers and the kids,” says Collins. “We can do classroom observations and work alongside the teachers to help the child’s communication skills.”
From working with children with autism to those with a stutter, the center spends a lot of time on parent training and working with entire families on building communication skills. Many times, parents simply want to hear their child say, ‘I love you’ or to be able to express their needs. The SLPs at Scottish Rite look to be the bridge for that communication between families regardless of the challenges the child is facing.
“Every day is unique and there’s no one child that fits a mold,” says Lisa Byank, speech-language pathologist. “We are constantly challenged and our team works to make a difference for each child.”
The Scottish Rite Center is located at 1630 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC. You can contact them at 202-745-2000.