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22 Mar, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

Montreal Fluency Centre moves programs online amid pandemic

During this pandemic, many Montreal parents may be concerned about how to access therapy for kids with special needs. At the Montreal Fluency Centre, the staff has found a way to bring therapies to kids via technology — including stuttering seminars.

Founded in 1987, The Montreal Fluency Centre is a non-profit organization that helps kids and adolescents with communication and learning disabilities, such as stuttering, dyslexia, and other speech-language delays. The clinic treats kids in preschool through their adolescent years. The Centre, along with its speech-language pathologists, psychologists, tutors, and educational consultants, offers bilingual services like the Taylor Adolescent Program (TAP), an after-school tutoring program for students with special needs in grades 5 through 11, to help them with various academic needs.

Founder Rosalee Shenker has been forced to rethink the Centre’s programs and services because the clinic had to be temporarily shut down. During this period, staff members have raised money for much-needed bursaries for parents whose incomes have been greatly reduced. The Centre has also been offering online seminars via Zoom for parents and their kids with special needs.

“My focus has been on the families of the children who stutter, but we’re also reaching out to all of our families with communication and learning problems and trying to make these services available to them because we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for,” Shenker says. “You could get all kinds of information on the internet,” Shenker says. “But all of our therapies are evidence-based and we only answer questions with information that is supported by research.”

As the free webinars have been very successful, The Montreal Fluency Centre has continued to add monthly online seminars for parents who have kids who stutter. The next two webinars will be on July 24 at noon and August 20 at noon. The webinars last 45 to 60 minutes each and will focus on taking questions from parents who have preschool children who stutter.

A second seminar will be by appointment and will offer assessments and group therapy to students who stutter via telepractice, using an online tool like Zoom or Skype.

The Montreal Fluency Centre will also be providing two summer programs for children who have language and learning challenges. During the week of July 6 and July 20, the Centre will be offering a reading comprehension program for students in grades 4 to 8. During the week of July 13 and July 27, the Centre will also be offering a writing program for students in grades 4 to 8. The reading comprehension program is meant to teach students what good readers do to read “deeply” and with good comprehension, says Marlene Desjardins, the Executive Director of the Montreal Fluency Centre. The writing program, she says, is meant to teach the students the writing process, and what professional writers do when writing a text. The students will learn how to write a well organized and elaborated text.

The programs will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and there is a limit of six students per group.

From August 3 to 21, the Centre will be offering a Bilingual Literacy Zone program, which is targeted to children with language-based learning challenges who need some help with English and/or French language and literacy, says Desjardins. “Students’ individual needs are targeted so the group can focus more on one language or the other, or equally on both,” she says. “Kids have opportunity to expand their vocabulary, reinforce their basic reading skills through practice, and interact with the program staff in both English and French to develop oral language proficiency.”

The camp will take place every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m and is open to students from grades 1 to 4.

To register for either camp or for more information, parents can e-mail reception@montrealfluency.com.

At the end of August, the Montreal Fluency Centre will also be providing online seminars for children and teenagers who stutter to prepare them to return to school.

The clinic has been using telepracticing to treat kids who live in remote communities where there is no access to a specialist therapist, especially in places like James Bay and some of the Indigenous communities in Quebec. The Centre decided to expand the use of telepracticing when the COVID-19 crisis began and in-person therapy could no longer be provided.

“We asked our clients who wanted to continue with their kids’ therapy if they wanted to switch to being seen by telepractice,” Shenker says. “We’re trying to reach out to as many of our families as we can. We hope the stuttering will go away on its own for the very young children but just in case it doesn’t, we’re there with a therapy that can be effective and useful through telepractice.”

As of June 15, the Montreal Fluency Centre resumed in-person treatment, but telepracticing is still available for families. The plan is to keep these online seminars even after the COVID-19 crisis is over because it’s user-friendly, accessible, and cost-effective, Shenker says.

Parents can register for the July 24 online seminar by clicking here.

Parents can register for the August 20 online seminar by clicking here.

For more information about telepractice, click here. 



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