Specialization Training Programs
Speech-Language Pathology Specialists Who Work with Children Who Have Hearing Loss
The University held funding from the U.S. Department of Education for early intervention training for the past four years. The funding assisted in preparing 32 SLP graduate students from 2007-2011 to work with children with hearing loss as they learned to maximize the use of technology such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. The grant trained 8 students per year for their entire graduate program. The trainees received a tuition waiver and a stipend during the two year training program. This personnel preparation grant was a joint venture with Kent State University. Eight students per year were trained (5 from UA and 3 from KSU) for four consecutive years. Special coursework enriched the trainees’ knowledge and background of cochlear implants and modern hearing aids and the special training needs of infants, toddlers and children who use them. Recipients learned how to be effective members of collaborative teams that emphasized family membership and the active participation of related professionals. They studied and applied, principles of early intervention including best practice themes of cultural diversity and collaborative teaming.
Approximately 4 million Americans are not able to use natural speech to meet their communication needs. According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) is defined as the area of clinical practice that attempts to compensate for the impairment or disability patterns of individuals with severe communication disorders. When using AAC, individuals with complex communication needs (CCN) access high and low technology strategies to compensate for their spoken and written impairments. While individuals with CCNs benefit from AAC, many do not receive adequate technical support, intervention, advocacy, and training around AAC. That lack of AAC support is directly related to the latest employment statistics, which indicate a shortage of well-trained SLPs in the area of AAC. In addition, 42% of Ohio school administrators want to hire SLPs with expertise in AAC.
In order to address the increasing need for SLPs with AAC expertise, The University of Akron School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology developed the Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) Concentration. Through this concentration, graduates will receive a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology as well as a certificate of training in AAC. Certificates of training are offered to eligible graduate students who complete a sequence of focused and intensive coursework, and clinical experiences, all within the area of AAC. The AAC Concentration program is run concurrently with the existing 5 semester graduate program, and funding may be available through graduate assistantships, scholarships, and the AAC fellowship.
Each year, four students are enrolled in the concentration program.
Mindfulness ACT Social Cognition and Stuttering Lab
Scott Palasik, Ph.D. is the director of the Mindfulness ACT Social Cognition and Stuttering Lab (MASS Lab). This lab focuses on the use of mindfulness practices along with a psychotherapy approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with people who stutter (PWS). PWS, like anyone, can modify brain activity by being present with their self and thoughts, being willing to accept all thoughts without the NEED to change or cling to thoughts, seeing one’s self as a whole person and not just a PWS, and living by one’s chosen core values when choosing committed daily actions and speaking situations. In addition to examining what PWS think along with the social construct of mental language which can influence decisions, behaviors, and speech, the MASS Lab looks at conscious and unconscious attitudes (social cognition) toward stuttering. In conjunction with the University of Eastern Kentucky, Scott is currently performing pedagogical research with respect to how graduate students perceive and learn fluency enhancing techniques. The MASS Lab also has performed some work looking at the environmental image of background sounds and eating. Scott is looking to start a Stuttering Concentration for graduate students, who will acquire counseling skills and stuttering treatment skills to better equip them as future professionals in speech language pathology.