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August 8, 2017 > Camp supports families with autism

Camp supports families with autism

Submitted By Kimberly Hawkins

Summer is a season of fun and exploration. For typically developing children, those without disabilities, there are endless options when it comes to activities, ranging from sleepaway camps to programs focused on sports, arts and crafts, and countless more. But for children with autism, the choices are limited and often cost-prohibitive for families.

Shubha Kashinath, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Cal State East Bay is intent on changing that. Pioneer Pals not only gives children with autism a safe place to have fun and engage in play, but also addresses core social communication skills. Simultaneously, the camp is providing real world training for KashinathÕs graduate students in speech pathology.

ÒTypically, graduate training programs provide students with opportunities to work one-on-one with children with autism, but donÕt often have opportunities to train students to provide intervention in group settings,Ó Kashinath says. ÒOur graduate students lead camp activities around themesÑlearning to incorporate fun, age appropriate games and activities to teach critical social communication skills to children with autism with a range of abilities and skills.Ó

This year, the camp, which wrapped up Thursday, August 3, hosted 21 children with autism as well as their siblings, who were invited to attend at no additional cost. Kashinath says this is an opportunity for siblings to learn how to interact and support a brother or sister with autism and develop leadership skills.

Pioneer Pals is housed in the Norma S. and Ray R. Rees Speech Language and Hearing Clinic, a teaching clinic on the Cal State East Bay campus for students preparing for careers in speech-language pathology.

During the academic year, the Rees clinic provides speech therapy services to the community at no cost. Donations are welcome, and can be made securely online (

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