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ACU offers free speech program for preschoolers

Abilene-area preschoolers have an opportunity to receive free language enrichment services this fall from Abilene Christian University speech-language pathology graduate students through the Program to Assist Language and Speech Skills.

PALS is designed for children ages 3-5 with delayed language skills or whose speech is hard to understand but who haven’t yet received intervention or treatment. The program includes four weeks of twice-weekly sessions with graduate-level speech-language clinicians and direct supervision by ACU faculty members.

Applications for the program are being accepted through Sept. 3. Initial evaluations will take place in early October, and treatment sessions will be Oct. 25 through Nov. 17.

The program is designed to help fill in the gaps before children reach school age but at a time when some speech and language issues might be arising.

“In this condensed time frame, we hope to be able to hone in on the areas where each child needs help,” said Monica Garcia, director of clinical education and clinical educator/instructor in ACU’s Center for Speech, Language and Learning. “The eight sessions may be enough to get them into the age appropriate range. Or, if there is still a delay, we can recommend that they continue receiving services in the spring, in a more traditional weekly setting. Since this is free, there’s no concern about qualifying through insurance companies.” 

PALS is also an important way for ACU students in the Master of Science in speech-language pathology program to get practice working with children and completing evaluations and interventions. The graduate student clinicians will complete a thorough evaluation of each child’s speech and language skills. Once accepted into PALS, the children participate in a four-week treatment program to target areas of delay in individual and group intervention settings led by the clinicians. Follow-up recommendations will be provided to families at the conclusion of the program.

“This is a controlled environment where our students can take it slow and have time to plan,” Garcia said. “They’ll have close collaboration with their supervisor and work with a partner.”

For more information, call the ACU Center for Speech, Language and Learning at 325-674-6670 or email Stephanie Fullerton at

— Wendy Kilmer

Aug. 20, 2021

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