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November 19, 2002

Hearing the call to help

From: Youngstown Vindicator, OH
Nov. 19, 2002

The center serves communities from Ashtabula to Steubenville.



SALEM — "You messed up my hair," 7-year-old J.J. Klein tells speech pathologist Patrice Watkin.

The complete sentence is monumental for J.J., who has a mild form of cerebral palsy and has a neurological condition known as apraxia.

"Co-lum-bi-an-a" J.J. says very slowly and with difficulty when asked where he lives. He makes it known, however, that he is NOT 7, but rather "almost 8."

J.J. is home-schooled so he can spend up to six hours per school day in speech and occupational therapy.

Karate class twice a week helps him with coordination and balance, and is good practice in listening then following directions.

A lot of progress

He has been in speech therapy with Watkin since he was 4, and has made a lot of progress since then, said his mom, Dawn Klein.

Children with apraxia know what they want to say but have difficulty voicing sounds. The ability to think in sequence is also impaired, making it difficult for them to verbally count or arrange words into sentences, Watkin said.

J.J., for example, has good word recognition skills and loves to read. Reading aloud is more difficult. Spelling is next to impossible because it involves putting letters into sequence.

Watkin said with early diagnosis and intervention followed by years of intense, daily therapy and practice at home, children can learn to overcome the difficulties apraxia causes, and J.J. is well on his way.

Watkin is one of two speech pathologists who work out of the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center's satellite office in Salem.


Speech screenings and therapy, American Sign Language classes, and interpreting for the deaf are among the services the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center offers Columbiana County residents.

The Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center's main office is at 6614 Southern Blvd. in Boardman in the Beeghly Medical Park. The Salem office is at 1156 E. State St.

Watkin and Stacie Arnfield, certified speech pathologists, provide speech screenings and therapy primarily to preschool and school-age children.

Watkin said the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center provides services for people with speech problems, the hard of hearing and the deaf from Ashtabula to Steubenville.

Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center's Community Center for the Deaf offers American Sign Langauge classes at various times and locations throughout the year.

Watkin said she and Arnfield do speech screenings at three preschools in Salem and one in Columbiana.

The Salem office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and later hours are available by appointment if needed, she said.

Watkin said she and Arnfield work with children with a variety of speech problems, from developmental delays to autism, and offer speech therapy for hearing-impaired children.

She said she and Arnfield are just beginning to work with area children who have had cochlear implant surgery.

The cochlear implant provides varied levels of hearing for a hearing-impaired person. Changing the level of hearing a person has then leads to new speech therapies, Watkin said.

United Way funding

Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center is one of the 21 agencies to receive funding from the Northern Columbiana County United Way. Watkin said all the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center's services are funded in part from United Way campaigns.

She said United Way funding allows the agency to provide $10,000 to $17,000 in free services annually. The agency could not provide free services without the United Way support, she said.

The local United Way's annual fund-raising campaign is under way. Its goal is $270,000 to dole out in 2003 among social service agencies in Columbiana, East Palestine, Hanoverton, Leetonia, Lisbon, New Waterford, Rogers, Salem, Salineville, Summitville and Washingtonville, and in Butler, Center, Elkrun, Fairfield, Franklin, Hanover, Knox, Middleton, Perry, Salem, Unity and West townships.
Copyright © 2002, The Vindicator