The Houston-Lantrip Center for Literacy and Learning at Hardin-Simmons University is focused on the well-being and support of children and parents who are dealing with learning differences and disorders that are on the rise in the United States. The center includes two programs: dyslexia services and autism spectrum disorder services.
The Houston-Lantrip Center has existed in some form and under different names at Hardin-Simmons University for more than 25 years, though now, in part due to a generous contribution from a benefactor, they have a brand new space that can provide high tech services, as well as group and one-on-one sessions in a safe environment.
“We were initially focused on teacher training,” said Dr. Emily Dean, the director of the center. “Within the last ten or fifteen years, we’ve really switched that focus to have a broader scope. The addition of the autism center has really allowed us to provide for a need in our community and the center itself has given us a more physical presence so that the community knows we are here as a resource.”
There are two sides of the new center – one specifically for dyslexia-related learning disabilities and one for autism – as well as a brand-new playground that is adapted to be completely safe as well as fun for students with disabilities.
“We are providing a service that you can’t always get for a very large rural area of the state of Texas. We’ve got students that are contacting us from miles around, ones that might not normally be able to get to us for transportation reasons, can now get to us through online and virtual ways as well,” Dean said.
While many of the services of both programs are directed to- wards helping and directly supporting students and families with learning differences, the HLC also focuses on providing support and opportunities for educators who work with these students to grow in their knowledge of the disorders and to train them through several seminars and workshops.
“Currently we offer a two-year intensive dyslexia specialist program. We were planning a number of teacher trainings for this summer but the COVID situation put a stop to that,” Dean said.
And the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the services offered to students.
“We have had to think outside the box. The autism clinic has continued to provide face-to-face services because they provide essential services that cannot be done in any other fashion. Dyslexia services moved to an online platform immediately following the closure of schools, and clients that wished to continue services did not miss any therapies during the shutdown, Dean said. She her- self had been holding an average of about 40 Zoom meetings a week to work one-on-one with her dyslexia and written language disability clients.
Children, parents and teachers can find more information or get involved with the center by following the Facebook page or calling the center.
“We evaluate each child to determine the hours and type of services they will need and then verify with insurance,” Dean said. “We are in the process of adding diagnostic service to our autism clinic. For the dyslexia clinic, parent, teacher, or doctor referral is all that is needed. We work with all children that have difficulty with reading and writing.”
By Vikki Head