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10 things to know for Better Hearing and Speech Month

May 23, 2017

This month is Better Hearing and Speech Month, which was created to raise awareness about communication and listening disorders each May.

At Arizona State University, the Department of Speech and Hearing ScienceThe Department of Speech and Hearing Science is in the College of Health Solutions. trains speech-language pathologists, audiologists and researchers, and the university boasts highly ranked national programs inside the field. ASU also offers a speech and hearing clinic, which provides audiology and speech services, performed by graduate student clinicians under the direct support of licensed, certified faculty members.

With the help of a pair of ASU's clinical professors and the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, here is a list of 10 things to know about hearing, speech and ASU's connection to the field.


1. Speaking more than one language does not cause speech problems

A common assumption is that multilingual children may suffer from speech problems, but according to the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, this is not the case. Kids who speak more than one language seem to have an overall speech development pattern that is similar to monolingual children, and there are clear differences between languages in regards to their influence on speech sound development. 


2. Close to a quarter of Americans suffer from hearing loss

With nearly 25 percent of Americans suffering from hearing loss and the numerous side effects that come with it, ASU is working hard to make life easier and simpler. 

ASU's clinic provides comphrehensive hearing health care along with a Living WELL With Hearing Loss group and assistance to purchase an affordable hearing aid.


3. All sounds should be acquired by ages 6 to 8

According the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, typical-development children will have standard articulation by the age of 6, 7 or 8. This means that they will be abe to produce all sounds by the third or fourth grade. 

It is important to note, however, that every child is unique and grows at a different pace. 


4. Exposure of sounds at 85 decibles or higher is the leading cause of hearing loss

Depending on how long one is around a high noise, things like an airplane taking off, a bulldozer or even a single gunshot can be blamed for hearing damage. 

"There is a dose-duration trade-off," said Erica Williams, a clinical assosiciate professor at ASU. "The higher the intensity of the sound above 85 dB, the less time it is safe to be exposed without the potential for permanent damage. For example, on average, at 85 dB a sound can be listened to safely for eight hours, but at 95 dB there is only one hour before the risk of permanent damage occurs."  


5. Audiologists can help patients with up to 5 different disorders and problems

Whether it's helping with hearing disorders, auditory processing disorders, balance disorders, ringing in the ear, or sensitivies to particular sounds, an audioloigst's work is important and wide-ranging. 

ASU's audiology program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. 


6. Speech language pathologists can assist patients in 6 separate capacities

ASU's speech-language pathology program is accredited by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. 

These pathologists assist patients with reading, swallowing, problem-solving, social cues, voice, and speech and language. 


7. ASU offers an elementary language and literacy summer program for 2nd-graders

ASU's speech and language clinic includes pediatric communication clinics that provide services to families and their children. Using early intervention, speech language development and pre-literacy skills, the clinic also has a language and literacy summer program for second-graders.

This year's SPELL-2 program will begin on Tuesday, May 30. More information for the event can be found here


8. ASU's doctoral program prepares students for research careers in 3 environments

No matter what area of focus students may be looking for, ASU has it covered. A hands-on opportunity to train in different settings is what sets ASU apart from others around the country. 

ASU's doctoral program prepares students for careers in research in academic, industrial or health-care environments.


9. ASU's audiology graduate program is ranked No. 9 in the country

ASU has highly ranked clinical graduate programs that train future audiologists — the university is currently ranked ninth in the country by the U.S. News and World Report.

That report gave ASU a 3.6 (out of five possible points) when published last year. The university was just one of three in the West to be ranked in the top 12. 


10. ASU has a speech and hearing clinic that provides training to students as well as clinical service to individuals of all ages

ASU's wide-ranging speech and hearing clinics are well-renowned in the area because of all of the services offered. 

Below is a list of just some of the services provided, according to Kelly Ingram, professor and director of ASU's Speech and Language Clinic.

  • fluency evaluations and treatment for people who stutter
  • articulation therapy for people who have difficulty producing certain sounds, especially /s/ and /r/
  • language and literacy therapy for people who are struggling to read and retain information
  • cognitive strategies for clients with mild traumatic brain injury to help them be more successful at school
  • pediatric speech and language services for children from 18 months to 5 years of age with speech and language deficits or children who have a diagnosis that puts them at risk for language delays
  • cochlear implant services in both audiology and speech
  • hearing evaluations for clients with suspected hearing loss
  • hearing management option for individuals with hearing loss


All photos courtesy of ASU Now and

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ASU's adult speech and language programs meet critical needs

Millions live with speech and language disorders; ASU programs can help.
May 10, 2017

Imagine going to Starbucks every morning and ordering a drink you don’t want because the one you do want is too hard to say. Imagine interviewing for a job when you can’t remember certain words. Imagine walking out of a summer movie with friends and not being able to express your opinion because you can’t keep up with their conversation.

These are very real situations for millions of Americans who live with speech and language disorders, and they can be even more frustrating for those who don’t have the tools to deal with them.

Kelly Ingram and Karen Gallagher, clinical associate professors in ASU’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, have heard about such situations from clients at the department’s Speech and Language Clinic. The clinic offers two intensive summer programs for adults with aphasiaAphasia is the loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. and stuttering: Aphasia Communication Effectiveness (ACE) and Intensive Summer in Stuttering Therapy (InSIST).

Many of the clients they see at the clinic are no longer eligible to receive services through insurance. “So this is an inexpensive way for them to maintain their communication skills and have opportunities to communicate,” Gallagher said.

Another function of the programs is that they serve to train ASU speech and hearing graduate students for careers in the field. The graduate clinicians plan and oversee group sessions under the direction of ASHA-certifiedASHA, or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is a professional association for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech, language and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally. ASU faculty, including Ingram and Gallagher.

According to Ingram, who also serves as director of the Speech and Language Clinic, social isolation is a real concern for people who have been living with speech and language disorders. It’s something that the aphasia program especially addresses, with a focus on group-based conversation.

ACE is a four-week program wherein clients can attend as many as four or as few as two, three-hour sessions each week. After an initial evaluation of clients’ needs, abilities and interests, topics of discussion are chosen.

In the past, sessions have incorporated book club and movie discussions, and even a classic car show in the parking lot outside the clinic where clients were able to chat with the car owners and ask questions.

woman in white coat leading group discussion
Director of ASU's Speech and Language Clinic Kelly Ingram leads a group discussion with participants of one of the clinic's adult-based programs. Photo courtesy Lucy Wolski

“[The programs are] really driven by the people, the men and women who come here, and their interests,” Gallagher said, “and those can shift from year to year. So we have ideas, materials and resources, but it’s driven by the individuals who come.”

Ryan Calvert has been attending the aphasia clinic for several years since suffering a stroke in September of 2006. He went from not being able to remember simple articles like “he” and “she” to being able to get his thoughts out in a “smooth and succinct” way.

Calvert appreciates that the clinicians take into account his and other clients’ interests.

“What we really like is variety, so we conveyed that to the clinicians, and they took that suggestion and made a lot of changes that helped,” he said. He also appreciates their hands-off approach. “The clinicians kind of step back and let us just talk amongst ourselves, and that’s beautiful. Then, when they see there’s something lacking or there is a disconnect, they intervene accordingly, and that’s really helpful.”

InSIST consists of two, two-hour sessions per week, for four weeks, where clients meet one-on-one with clinicians for focused therapy as well as group interactions. It’s different than some traditional approaches to stuttering therapy, Gallagher said, because it’s condensed, time-wise, and therefore more intensive.

The adult-specific programs are also especially helpful to the ASU grad students who run them. While they get plenty of experience with kids through the several child-based programs offered by the Speech and Language Clinic, such as the Summer Program for Elementary Literacy and Language and the Pediatric Communication Clinic, the aphasia and stuttering clinics help them to get experience with adults.

“Our students need to be trained across the lifespan, from birth to death,” Ingram said.

Speech pathology grad student Taylor Lorengo has led both children’s and adults’ sessions. She said the adult programs have helped her appreciate clients as individuals with specific needs.

“That was something I really had to check in with, remembering they’re not kids,” she said. “The principles are similar but you just have to keep in mind the type of client that you have.”

Lorengo will graduate in May of 2018 and hopes to eventually work in acute care.

“You can see how beneficial these programs are to the people who are in them,” she said. “A lot of times out in the world, they don’t have people trained like we are to help them communicate. The time they get to come in and get someone like us to help them be successful is huge.”