September 27, 2017

Outdoor learning space to help children with communication challenges

Outdoor_learning A child plays on the slide at the new Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles Outdoor Learning Space is located at Purdue’s Lyles-Porter Hall. This learning space will help children with communication, sensory and motor skill challenges thrive in a fun environment while engaging in therapy. (Purdue University/Mark Simons) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A new Purdue University outdoor learning space will help children with communication, sensory and motor skill challenges thrive in a fun environment while engaging in therapy.

The Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles Outdoor Learning Space is located at Purdue’s Lyles-Porter Hall, and will be used by the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, which serves children of all ages.

While it looks like a playground, each component of the space was designed to encourage children to play together and to practice using their social skills in a safe environment. Some children, who may have delayed language skills, hearing impairment or are on the autism spectrum, can struggle with communication skills. The equipment also helps children improve their sense of balance, while engaging their auditory and tactile functions. 

MIles_celebrate Bob L. and Joyce Beery Miles celebrate the new outdoor learning space named for them at Purdue’s Lyles-Porter Hall on Sept. 22. (Purdue University/Mark Simons) Download image

“Instead of individual swings, the equipment is designed with a group swing area so the children have to work together while playing,” said Hope Gulker, clinical associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences. “This motivates children to utilize their communication and motor skills.”

The space also provides researchers with ways to investigate and treat children’s communication skills that would not be possibile within traditional therapy rooms and classrooms.

Purdue’s speech-language clinic programs includes birth to 3, preschool language groups and pragmatic language groups. These programs serve children with delayed language, autism, stuttering and other communication disorders. Purdue speech students also gain clinical experience.

The outdoor learning space was dedicated on Sept. 22. It was made possible by a gift from alumni Bob and Joyce Miles. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1963 and Joyce received a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences in 1965.

Writer: Olivia Crouse, ocrouse@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Hope Gulker, hgulker@purdue.edu

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