Camp Chatterbox Helps Children with Special Needs Communicate

There's a special camp that gives a voice to children who have trouble being heard.

It's called Camp Chatterbox.

Now in it's 20th year, it provides fun and therapy to children who use computer devices to communicate. Randall Pinkston reports from New York.

At camp chatterbox, Ben Hosterman sings and dances with all the other kids.

Ben Hosterman says, "I want to do the bubble gum song with Marissa and Mattie bubble gum song."

The 8-year-old suffered two strokes at birth, leaving him unable to speak.

Like all the campers here, he uses a computer device to communicate.

Jodi Hosterman says, "If you're the only kid in the school district of 2600 kids using a communication device you feel like the odd man out all the time, here he feels perfectly at ease because everyone else has a talker."

Joan Bruno of children's specialized hospital started camp chatterbox in mountainside new jersey 20 years ago.

It combines typical fun camp activities with therapy sessions to help the children master their communication devices.

Director of Camp Chatterbox Joan Bruno says, "We want everyone to achieve their potential. For some children their potential is to go to college, for other children it might be to be more functional in their community."

Michael Fondacaro will enter high school in the fall, taking all mainstream classes.

He taps his head to compose messages on his voice box.

Camper Michael Fondacaro says, "When I first started camp, I had six buttons on a page now I have 60 buttons on a page."

It's not just the campers who benefit from camp chatterbox.

It's also a chance for their parents to give each other emotional and practical support.

Grace Fondacaro says, "The networking, getting ideas from other parents, getting ideas, what chair are you using? We share so much information."

A unique experience they'll be talking about all year round. Randall Pinkston CBS News.

This year, 16 campers and their families attended Camp Chatterbox The Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation subsidizes the cost of Camp Chatterbox to keep the costs within reach of the families.

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  • by Linda Location: Grand Rapids, Mi on Aug 30, 2011 at 01:43 PM
    I am Ben's Nana, Jodi's mom. Jodi has been the voice for Ben. She taught him sign language at age 2 and has been instrumental in exploring every avenue to make life "normal" for Ben. Bless Camp Chatterbox, it has introduced her to others and made some wonderful friends for their family to share and explore possibilties.
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