The Kingsley Family: Speech-Language and Early Intervention Human Interest Stories

Longwood University’s Speech, Hearing and Learning Services offers professional speech-language, educational and early intervention programs to children and families in Southcentral, Va. In the fall of 2013, the program was moving to a brand new space in downtown Farmville and was preparing to offer a range of expanded services to families in a seven-county region.

As part of a strategic communications plan, human interest stories were written to promote the program’s services and highlight success stories. The articles were used on the program’s website and other communications avenues and were also pitched to the subjects’ hometown news outlets as human interest stories.

“It does take a village to raise a child, especially if you have children with special needs,” said Jennifer Kingsley, a longtime Farmville, Va., resident and local veterinarian. And she should know – together with her husband Dan, an optometrist, Kingsley has six children.

Over the years, the Kingsleys have also been foster parents to 25 children. Four of their children were adopted from foster care and have special needs.

Tyler, 12, is hard of hearing and doesn’t pick up vocabulary easily. Hailey, 8, came to live with the Kingsleys as an infant, and as a toddler wasn’t learning words as she should. Andy, 7, wasn’t talking when he came to live with the Kingsleys at 3 ½. Andy also had almost no social skills or familiarity with every day things, which caused him to be fearful of new experiences. Most recently, the Kingsleys have adopted 2-year-old Timmy, who has hearing and articulation difficulties.

In 2006, Tyler was one of the first clients to be seen when Longwood University’s Speech, Hearing and Learning Services (formerly the Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy and Learning) opened in Farmville. The center offers professional speech-language, educational and early intervention programs to children and families in Southcentral, Va.

“The base of my village is Longwood,” said Kingsley. “I’ve yet to stump them with an issue one of my children is having. To be able to get advice about your child from a group of professionals, all under one roof, who can help with a range of issues, is an incredibly valuable resource, especially in a rural area.”

Kingsley credits the staff’s approach and how the university involves speech-language pathology graduate students with helping her children to thrive. She said her children enjoy going to sessions because the services are geared toward their interests – from fire trucks, to grocery stores to Harry Potter.

“The graduate students are excited about what they’re doing and always put so much thought into the session they’re leading with your child,” she said. “But they’re also under the watchful direction of professional clinicians, who are also Longwood faculty members, so you’re getting a range of experience.”

Kingsley now happily reports on the successes of her children. Tyler is a rising seventh grader who exceeds educational goals and plans to graduate high school and attend college. After a year of services, Hailey has “graduated” and no longer needs additional assistance with speech. Andy still struggles with some fears and articulation issues, but has come a long way from the little boy who was scared of holiday celebrations and had never been to a grocery store. And Timmy is expected to overcome his initial delays caused by hearing difficulties.

“I would encourage any parent, whether their child has special needs or not, to check out the services available,” Kingsley said. “There’s always a benefit to evaluating goals for your child and seeing how they can be supplemented.”

Longwood University’s Speech, Hearing and Learning Services will open in a new facility, located at 315 Third St. in Farmville this October. The off-campus facility will have eight individual therapy rooms, two group therapy rooms, a large pre-school room and ample parking. Expanded programs and technology will include swallowing evaluation, a child feeding clinic, support groups for families and audiology services. For more information, call 434.395.2972 or visit

Photo credit: Longwood University