Children with autism have great difficulty developing verbal communications skills; 40 percent are, like Catherine's son Max, nonverbal.
Catherine Markosky (Max's Mom) is the Founder and Executive Director of Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, Inc. (STAT). STAT, together with clinical faculty members and a pile of graduate interns at Ithaca College’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, are addressing this issue by combining equine therapy and assistive technology through an exclusive STAT proprietary program called Strides©.
Though both therapy approaches have been proven effective independently, they have rarely been used in tandem. The Strides© program puts children on horseback and gives each child an iPad equipped with speech-generating applications (Eg: Proloquo2GO). The team of Ithaca College graduate students facilitated STAT's intensive, highly customized training and ongoing support for STAT's clients and documenting outcomes for the Strides protocol. "Clients who many times came to the program non-verbal and became verbal communicators after as little as 10 weeks. That is remarkable!" states Catherine Markosky, the Founder and Executive Director of STAT Inc.
The unique therapeutic approach has helped children reach significant breakthroughs in communication, both verbally and through effective use of the device. "The program also includes 1:1 parent training, because we all know AAC programming is not a simple task." states Caswell, Ithaca College SLP, "STAT covers all the costs of the program for 10-12 children annually. Ithaca College has not contributed any funding at this time but we do see great benefit in working with STAT's Strides program, especially for our intern program"