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ASU speech clinics help youth communicate with confidence

ASU prof: "Early intervention is key" for children with speech language delays.
ASU speech clinic fills in gaps where in-school speech therapy can be deficient.
December 5, 2016

Programs provide speech therapy for toddlers and elementary school students, often with one-on-one attention

A group of toddlers sits in a circle, singing and passing around maroon and gold pom poms. When the they come around to a shy 2-year-old, everyone sings, “Who are we rooting for?”

He shouts, “Max!” and beams a wide smile as they cheer.

The enthusiasm is in contrast to when he began coming to these sessions a few months ago. Back then, Max’s mother, Kelly Whalen, said she had to sit with him until he worked up the nerve to join the rest of the bunch.

Part of Max’s problem socializing, Whalen said, was difficulty speaking, and the twice weekly song time is part of an ASU program involving grad students who give youngsters one-on-one attention to help them work through speech problems. 

"Early intervention is key to giving children with speech language delays the best chance to become effective communicators," said Pediatric Communications Clinics (PCC) director and clinical supervisor Dawn Greer. "The earlier children are identified and receive services, the better."

The PCC at ASU provides speech therapy for toddlers and preschoolers through the university’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Most recently, it was joined by the After School Articulation and Phonology Program, which in the fall began offering similar services for kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.

"The PCC is a great resource for young children with speech sound disorders, but we wanted to reach families with older children as well, so we developed” the program, which goes by ASAP, said Kelly Ingram, whose ASU Speech and Language Clinic administers both ASAP and PCC.    

Each program was designed to fill a void: PCC focuses on early intervention to facilitate children’s communication, language, articulation, motor and social skills — before they begin traditional schooling. ASAP, meanwhile, steps in to bolster in-school speech therapy.

Ingram explained that while in-school speech therapy is a good start, there can be downsides: Children are often pulled out of regular classes and end up missing lessons; The caseloads of in-school speech therapists are often very large, which means kids aren’t getting a lot of individual attention; And the criteria for a child to qualify for speech therapy is based on age, meaning in some cases, children aren’t receiving therapy until the problem has worsened.

“Even if they’re only here for an hour and 15 minutes every week, they’re still getting a lot of practice,” ASAP clinical faculty supervisor Cathy Bacon said. “Probably more than they’re getting all week long in the schools. ASAP provides intense, individualized instruction at a low cost.”

PCC and ASAP also give graduate students in the speech-language pathology master’s program and undergraduate students working toward a speech language pathology assistant certificate hands-on experience under direct supervision of Department of Speech and Hearing Science clinical faculty.

The child participants attend once or twice weekly sessions, depending on need, on a semester-by-semester basis. The sessions range from an hour and 15 minutes to two hours, during which time the children are guided by the ASU graduate and undergraduate students through a series of activities and one-on-one drills.

The type and intensity of the activities vary based on the age group but can include singing, musical instruments, art projects, sensory play, story time, snack and outdoor play. All of the lessons are planned by the ASU students, who also set up individualized road maps for each child that detail specific areas that need work, identify goals and provide weekly progress reports for parents.

“There’s no other way to get this kind of hands-on experience,” said Sarah Shill, a speech and hearing science undergrad with ASAP. She and fellow speech-language pathology students Jessi Johnson, Dominique Vasquez and Andrea Valentin make up the program’s first cohort.

“They work so well together, troubleshooting child behavior during sessions and collaborating on lesson plans,” clinical faculty supervisor Kate Helms Tillery said.

She and Bacon observe each session in an adjacent room where they can see and hear everything that goes on, taking note of what needs work and what’s working well, so they can give the ASU students notes and guidance afterward.

“We have amazing feedback from the professors basically every day,” Valentin said.

Greer also closely observes each PCC session and provides feedback.

The programs are growing. The Department of Speech and Hearing Science is next looking at making their existing summer reading program available during the regular school year.

According to Bacon, these type of outreach programs are “just another way ASU is reaching out to provide services to the community while providing quality training opportunities for students.”

Organizers say the individual attention is key. The ratio of ASU students to children in both PCC and ASAP is presently about 2 to 1. It varies depending on the number of participants, but is never more than one ASU student to every two children.

“You can’t beat that,” Whalen said, adding that her son Max’s progress has been “huge.”

“I wish I had known about this sooner,” she said. “It has just been the absolute perfect situation for him.”


Top photo: ASU undergraduates in the speech language pathologist assistant certificate program Dominique Vasquez (left) and Sarah Shill work with After School Articulation and Phonology child participant Marcella Morales. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

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ASU team hits Miami seeking sustainable future

ASU team talks sustainable design at international design, art conference.
December 6, 2016

ASU team shares design strategies at Design Miami — an influential, international conference for design and the arts

Led by Herberger Institute faculty, a team of ASU students has recently returned from an international conference for designers, architects and developers where they discussed how to hit United Nations goals for prosperity and sustainability.

ASU’s group — including Dean Steven J. Tepper and students from journalism, film and sculpture — presented a series of talks at the Design Miami conference from expert speakers, discussing sustainable design strategies, which are part on the United Nation's landmark Paris Agreement and increasingly important as the world’s urban population grows.  

According to a U.N. talking-points paper: “The way in which cities, buildings and shelters are built today is highly unsustainable and needs to change. The decisions made about how these cities are built and how industries grow, thrive and employ will impact generations.”

Design Miami, held alongside the Art Basel international art fair each December, touts itself as “the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating collectible design.” It features panel discussions, gallery shows, lectures and networking opportunities. Tepper saw it as a key opportunity to introduce the U.N. sustainable development goals, calling on the influencers in attendance to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.      

“Transforming the way in which infrastructure is designed and built — with a focus on low-emission and resilient construction — will require a new level of commitment from designers, architects and developers,” the U.N. talking points read. 

The Paris Agreement’s 17 goals to transform the world by 2030, include eliminating poverty, hunger and gender equality while increasing access to  affordable energy, clean water and sanitation, and responsible consumption and production.

According to the U.N., the majority of the world’s population lives in cities today. By 2050, over 65 percent of people are projected to be living in urban areas. The paper said “design infrastructure and industries will determine the future of not only environmental health in these cities, but also the health and safety of the residents who live in these cities.”

Assisting Tepper deliver the message were three ASU faculty and four students, who interned with CNN Style, the official media sponsor of Design Miami. In addition to helping CNN with their coverage of the event, they also produced a 90-second digital video, which will be aired next week on CNN’s website and Facebook page.

Andrew Noble, a graduate 3-D and virtual reality sculpture in ASU’s School of Art, said the video couldn’t be more timely or relevant.

“We have someone entering office who doesn’t necessarily believe in climate change and the environmental impacts currently taking place,” Noble said.

Sustainability, journalism student Jiahui Jia said, can mean much more than impacts to the environment.

“It can be expanded to bigger ideas like gender equality and poverty,” said Jia, a graduate student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s good for a journalist to be exposed to a wide variety of experiences. Now I can apply the concepts of sustainability when I do a story.”

For film major Rebecca Wilson, her week in Miami turned out to be a cornucopia of contacts.

“I took the initiative to network and that was a priceless experience,” said Wilson, who is a senior in ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theater. “I met some pretty amazing designers and architects who are looking forward to hearing from me after I graduate.”

Tepper said the Miami trip produced several good outcomes. He specifically cited the student experience with CNN; a deepening relationship with the senior leadership at the UN and plans to explore partnerships with other foundations around art and sustainability.


Photo: Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Dean Steven J. Tepper.