Having a conversation about sports with a teenage boy can be easily taken for granted. For Cody Pate, such conversations represent years of hard work and the support of a remarkable team. He was born deaf. Doctors tried hearing aids, but they proved to be ineffective. He received a cochlear implant when he was 2 years old.
Since June 2017, he has been a client of the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Stockton, where he has worked with several Pacific speech-language pathology student clinicians: Timothy Carroll ’18, MS, Arianne Cubillo ’19, MS, Ashley MacWhirter ’19, Kailie McHugh ’19, Tierney O’Mara ’17, ’18, MS, Vanessa Vincent ’18, MS and Mackenzie Zoller ’19.
Cody has diligently worked on articulating his ending sounds, such as “ed” or “s.” “When we first started, he would leave out certain features of words, which made it difficult to understand what he was saying,” said McHugh. The student clinicians work closely with the clients to set goals that they work toward achieving, one conversation at a time. “I’ve always enjoyed working with the clients at Scottish Rite and seeing how much they improve from the beginning of the semester to the end, “McHugh said. “They all work so hard, it’s amazing to see how much clients absorb in a short amount of time. “
Trudy Pate has witnessed the growth in her son’s communication skills. “He has come a long way since being here,” she said. “His clarity of speech and writing has greatly improved.” For Zoller, receiving feedback from the client’s support team was a highlight of her time at the Scottish Rite. “It was an empowering emotion to not only see a client’s progress through my measurable data notes, but to hear about improvements in other settings, such as at home or at school,” said Zoller.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with the clients at Scottish Rite and seeing how much they improve from the beginning of the semester to the end.”
The Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center fosters an atmosphere of teamwork. “I’ve worked with a group of two boys during my time at Scottish Rite,” McHugh said. “Seeing them work together and help each other out when working on separate goals was so inspiring. These kids are so willing to help others; it’s really admirable.” Cody shared that he helps other clients “so they will know they are not alone” and “it is OK to ask for help.” In addition to communication skills, his time at the center has taught him to advocate for himself.
During the summer in 2017 and 2018, Cody volunteered at the Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) Academy; a collaboration between Pacific’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and the California Department of Education’s Diagnostic Center, Central California, held in Stockton at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center. During the weeklong camp, clients practiced using their augmentative-alternative communication devices in an immersive, supportive setting. When activities were too difficult for younger participants, Cody often partnered with them and to help them complete their projects. Nicholaus Brock ’11, ’12, MS, CCC-SLP, assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology and director of the Stockton Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center, said Cody is referred to as “junior clinic director” for his ability to help create a fun, safe learning environment.
The students who worked with Cody have connected with him through conversations about fishing and baseball. On May 4, 2018, he threw the first pitch at a Stockton Ports home game during Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark. This annual event was established by Benjamin Reece ’01, ’08, MS, CCC-SLP, director of clinical education and assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology, to give student clinicians and clients, along with their support teams, the opportunity to interact outside of the clinic setting.
The passion the students have to help their clients is evident to the families. “They are very well prepared,” Trudy Pate said. “You wouldn’t even think they were students. Nich [Brock] and his whole team have been really wonderful. They make sure it is fun, not just a school or tutoring setting. They make you feel like family.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold