SLP professor publishes a children's guide to touch

The book is available for pre-order at
Hunter Manasco, Ph.D., assistant professor of speech-language pathology at Misericordia University, has had the book, “An Exceptional Children’s Guide to Touch: Teaching Social and Physical Boundaries to Kids,’’ published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers of London, England. The book is illustrated by his wife, Katharine Manasco.

The 80-page paperback is available for pre-order at for $17.95. The purpose of this friendly picture book is to educate children with special needs on social rules regarding appropriate and inappropriate forms of touching. It can be used to empower children to recognize abuse and to encourage them to reach out for help if they feel they are being abused. The book also has a “for adults’’ section with information for caregivers and professionals regarding how to recognize child abuse and who to contact if they believe a child is being abused.

Dr. Manasco began to conceptualize his latest book project in 2004 shortly after he started working with children as a speech-language pathologist. In a matter of months, he became aware of the many dangers and social difficulties that children with special needs encounter in their daily lives. He witnessed an over anxious student profoundly alienate herself from her peers by constantly picking her nose in class. Another student’s hugs were deemed cute when she was little, but were improper in high school and may have led to her being sexually abused. He saw children with special needs hurt others and be hurt by their peers and caregivers without knowing anything was awry or that something should be done about it.

“I saw all these situations and more, which centered on issues of physical touch and a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding on the part of the child for what was acceptable and what was not acceptable and possibly even problematic,’’ Dr. Manasco said. “For the parents, caregivers, teachers and other professionals working with children with special needs, these issues arise often. Yet, when I searched for the materials needed to address these problems, I found little or no materials tailored to fit the cognitive and communicative needs of these children.

“This book was born out of the necessity to educate the smallest and most vulnerable members of our population. It should be more often acknowledged that to make our children safe and successful later in life, we must keep them safe and successful early in life,’’ the Dallas Township resident, husband and father added.

Dr. Manasco specializes in treating children with autism and other neurological disorders. He has extensive professional experience working with children in schools, hospitals and university health clinics, including the Misericordia University Speech-Language and Hearing Center on campus. Dr. Manasco holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in speech-language pathology from the University of Montevallo in Alabama, as well as a Ph.D. from the University of South Alabama.

As a speech-language pathologist, his areas of specialization include neuroanatomy, aphasia, motor speech disorders, dysphagia, traumatic brain injury, dementia and autism. He also had the book, “The Way to A: Empowering Children with Autism Spectrum and Other Neurological Disorders to Monitor and Replace Aggression and Tantrum Behavior,’’ published by Autism Asperger Publishing Company of Kansas. The book focuses on behavior modification techniques for children with autism who display aggression and tantrum behavior.

Dr. Manasco also has worked with adults as a speech-language pathologist in acute and long-term care settings, as well as hospice, and adult rehabilitation. He has presented numerous research papers in his areas of specialty at state and national conferences.

For more information about the Misericordia University Speech-Language Pathology Program, please log on to or call (570) 674-TALK. Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 37 degree programs in three colleges in full- and part-time formats.