Students assist those with speech disorders

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Situated on the second floor of the Health Services building is the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, which allows students, children and 0327_ClinicalSpeechCenter_mb(color)community members to receive treatment for speaking disabilities.

The clinic is affiliated with the communication disorders and sciences department, and senior and graduate students provide the services as part of their clinical training. Faculty members who are certified and licensed in speech-language pathology or audiology also supervise the students.

Frank Goldacker, the director of the clinic, said the communication disorders and sciences department is divided into the area for training and academics and the area for clinicals.

Goldacker said the clinic is a way for students to gain real-world experience in the career; those working will see patients who range in age from 3-month-old children to 80-year-old adults. He said a minimum of a master’s degree is required to be a speech-language pathologist.

The clinic assists with speech disorders of articulation, phonology, apraxia, voice, stuttering, cleft palate, laryngectomy, neurological disorders and accent reduction. The services also address pediatric and adult feeding and swallowing disorders.

Aural rehabilitation is offered for individuals newly diagnosed or with long-standing hearing loss.

Typically, two 50-minute sessions are scheduled per week on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

One of the aspects about speech disorders is hearing can also affect the ability to speak correctly, because they sometimes see faculty members who are not very good at English and they come to improve on their pronunciation and enunciation.

“If we don’t hear it, or we don’t hear it correctly that could affect something,” Goldacker said.

Goldacker said adults can acquire speech disorders as a result of strokes, brain trauma and head and neck cancers. He said adults who used to be fully functional people whom experiences these hardships can go through frustrations, psychological and social issues.

“You can’t perform the same daily activities due to this,” he said.

Adults with disorders who were once normal speakers can experience loss, depression and difficulty to accept their disability to speak.

The challenges those coping with the disorder, especially children, are behavioral issues because they might experience something that may interfere with their learning. The clients are encouraged to use areas of their weakness to build on their strengths.

Goldacker said the clinic also helps people develop augmentative and alternative communication systems, which is a device used by Stephen Hawking to help with speech.

Some of the misconceptions people might have with those who have speech disorders are they may not be as intelligent or perceptive or not quite so effective in certain roles or positions, Goldacker said.

Eastern is unique in the fact that it started an autism center last fall, which addresses clients from all over the state. Other autism clinics could take six months to get to someone while at the university it is only two or three months, Goldacker said.

Though the clinic is  ran by students, all information and activities regarding clients and their families are confidential.

Goldacker said those who wish to use their services must pay a fee of $300 a semester for the beginning of academic years, but the fee is then reduced by $100 for summer sessions. He said a hospital could charge upwards to $125 an hour for similar services, but everything is free for Eastern students.


Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].