By Claire Salinas
For Hope Vicknair, a new facility means new opportunity.
Vicknair’s son, Scottie, is a full-time student in the Therapeutic Preschool program at the new Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior and Development at LSU’s Innovation Park.
Though the facility has only been open a short while, it hasn’t taken long for Vicknair to notice improvement in her son, Scottie, and the other children who are making use of the facility.
“Scottie has Speech Apraxia and a Sensory Disorder. Even with [the program] only being open a few days, I can already see great changes in Scottie,” said Vicknair. “When we leave, it is a much smoother transition with the new building. With the new ABA [Applied Behavior Analysis] room, it’s more open and inviting for the kids. The Sensory gym is just what he and the other kids needed.”
Occupational Therapist Missy Devillier treats children like Scottie using some of the new equipment such as the Indoor Sensory gym.
“The various equipment in the gym provides different opportunities for sensory inputs that lets the kids learn through climbing, posture, swinging and touch,” said Devillier. “Through this new equipment, they are able to improve their development in a number of sensory-motor components, at a much faster rate all through play.”
The Emerge Center aims to assist people who have challenges communicating with others through a variety of therapeutic techniques and technologies.
In its previous location on West Roosevelt Street, the clinic had an average waiting list of 70 children for therapeutic services. The facility has tripled in size, and while it was previously able to serve 9,000 clients, it can now serve 26,000.
The new services will now offer occupational therapy five days per week instead of one, and will treat up to 60 clients per week. The center will serve up to 300 children in the therapeutic language center per week and 100 children in its integrated Autism program per year.
According to the Communications and Partnerships Manager for Emerge, Lauren Michaud, the new equipment will help to “facilitate our staff’s ability to provide coordinated care through our unique and effective team treatment approach, working together in an intentional way to achieve the best possible results for the young clients they treat.”
The new amenities at the center include an indoor sensory gym, a state of the art outdoor learning playground, a lunchroom and a parent resource library.
According to Julie Chappell, Chief Development Officer for Emerge, the expanded space will benefit area children.
“We anticipate that our conference and training space will open up possibilities to attract research dollars and form new partnerships and collaborations,” said Chappell. “This will ultimately lead to improved and expanded services available for the children in our community.”
Emerge’s therapy model utilizes interventions including speech therapy, a unique therapeutic language preschool, occupational therapy, psychological, behavioral services and an integrated Autism program for young children, as well as audiology services for all ages. The center also offers a therapeutic preschool program for children with developmental language disorders.
The campus expansion and relocation were completed in partnership with the Innovation Park program, which helps local and student businesses to expand and promote their businesses.
According to Michaud, the services offered by Emerge are the only ones of its type on the Gulf Coast.
“Emerge will bring to Baton Rouge services unavailable anywhere else in the Gulf South,” said Michaud. “Our vision is to be a beacon of hope for children, adults and their families facing communication, behavior and developmental challenges.”