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Speech therapists help keep preschoolers from falling behind amid COVID-19 closures

Parental involvement is also playing a role in helping those with special needs make gains.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Speech therapists are working to make sure preschoolers don't fall through the cracks when it comes to early intervention services. Some experts say youngsters are making gains thanks to parental involvement.

Gigi Stone is a Speech-Language Pathologist and has about 28 children on her caseload. The majority of the children are 3 to 5 years old and struggle with speech delays to being on the autism spectrum. Stone has been conducting teletherapy sessions with the kids for about two months. 

A number have seen improvement in articulating words and letters they had difficulty with before COVID-19 closed their preschools. Stone credits parents working with their kids during each session and then reinforcing the strategies throughout the day.

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"Parents are sitting right there during the sessions, they see what i am doing, they hear the language I use and I hear them use the language I am using," Stone said.

"I am just trying to absorb everything I get from those wonderful people my kids are around and I think it makes us happier on the home front during a challenging time," Eliza Sandals, a parent of one of Stone's patients, said.

Stone is also dropping off packets to home to parents to help their kids work on speech skills at home. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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