Each Wednesday, a handful of children in southern Oklahoma visit the Rite Care Clinic in Ardmore.
They are met there by Larry Cypert, secretary for the clinic, who visits with the children and prepares them for their speech therapy session in front of a computer.
Surrounded by flash cards, books and colorful learning materials. The children keep their eyes peeled to the computer screen as they see and hear Rachel Martin, a speech language pathologist in McAlester, begin the weekly session.
Since August 2012, the Rite Care Clinic in Ardmore, which is a project of the McAlester Scottish Rite Charitable and Education Foundation, has offered speech, language and reading programs to children in need through teletherapy, the use of a video-calling program, says Ashley Monk, Rite Care Clinic director.
“The kids love it,” Monk says. “They think they are on TV.”
About five years ago, the Rite Care Clinic in Ardmore opened its doors and began providing services at no cost for children who needed one-on-one speech therapy.
The goal was to help children under the age of 12 who had communication difficulties by providing speech, language and reading programs, Monk says.
Keeping a speech language pathologist at the part-time outreach clinic in Ardmore was a challenge, and the clinic made the decision to try teletherapy, a new trend in therapy. Teletherapy is similar to a typical therapy session, but the two parties are in two different locations, and the use of a webcam allows the two to communicate.
Monk says both children and parents have responded positively to the teletherapy, and it has been a wonderful way to keep the program meeting the needs of children.
Martin says she works with the children on flash cards just like she would if she were in the Ardmore office. The patient is able to see the flash card and respond, working on articulation and speech. Martin is able to view the child through her computer screen and view the oral-motor abilities. If the two work on reading, both offices are supplied with the same materials and can follow along together.
Sessions last 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the child’s needs. As children work on their skills and progress, they complete the program, opening a weekly session spot for another child, ages four through 12.
“We want the community to know about the services we offer and all the help we provide kids in the community,” Monk said. “We provide one-on-one therapy.”
Every three months, Monk and Martin travel to Ardmore to meet with the children and parents in person. On those days, the clinic runs evaluations.
The services are free, and there is a one-time fee for evaluations. The clinic depends on donations from the Masons and the local community.
For the first time, there will be a community fundraiser event to raise awareness and funds for the Rite Care Clinic. On May 31, the Rite Care Clinic of Ardmore 5K Fun Run will take place at 8 a.m. in Regional Park. There is a $30 participation fee, and the first 200 participants receive a T-shirt.
Those interested in the clinic’s services, or to register or sponsor the run, can call the clinic’s office at (580) 224-9943.