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Let’s Talk: Speech-Language Pathology Students Volunteer with Social Skills Group

Lebanon Valley College speech-language pathology students work with patients at Developmental and Disability Services

Whether it’s collaborating on a project, learning how to play a game fairly, or just having a conversation, Lebanon Valley College speech-language pathology students are making connections with kids, teens, and adults through a Social Skills group at Lebanon Developmental & Disability Services. 

LVC students, under the direction of Dr. Michelle Scesa, chair and professor of speech-language pathology, attend the weekly groups and apply the lessons they are learning in the classroom to help improve the day-to-day social skills of people living with autism and other social delays. Participants in the social skill groups improve by observing their peers’ body language and understanding non-verbal cues. 

“Each week, we tried to introduce a new social behavior while incorporating the one from the previous week,” said Nichole Spencer ’22. “One week we taught turn-taking and the following week was playing games fairly and refraining from being a ‘poor loser.’ We kept reinforcing the idea of turn-taking, while playing a board game to practice playing fairly.”

Morgan Weidemoyer ’21 appreciated the connection between her classroom lessons and this field experience. “We learn about speech disorders and issues, such as aphasia (a disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language) and dysarthria (difficult or unclear articulation of speech). We also learn about articulation issues and stuttering issues, which are all seen in the social skills group.”

Weidemoyer shared the story of a 46-year-old with Down Syndrome who opened up to her about his shyness. “It gave me a sense of happiness because he felt comfortable enough to talk to me.”

Through the program, students improved their own teaching and communications skills and provided a valuable service to the community.

“Through my involvement with the DDS group, I am confident that speech-language pathology is the career path that I want to pursue,” Parrish said. “I very much enjoyed working with the children and seeing the progress that they made each session.”


- Sierra Force, LVC Marketing & Communications Student Assistant