Shaw University School of Health Professions Shed Light on Communication Disorders

Fairfield, Conn. Faculty members of the College of Health Professions at the University of the Sacred Heart highlighted the importance of audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) during the month of May at the national level to improve hearing and speech.

They help dispel misconceptions about people with speech, language, and hearing disabilities and explain how SHU programs prepare students to work effectively with people with hearing and speech difficulties.

Each May, the American Speech-Hearing Association’s Better Hearing and Speech Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders. About 5% to 10% of Americans have a communication disorder or impairment that affects voice, speech, language, hearing, and swallowing. One million Americans have aphasia, a language disorder that affects comprehension and expression, and more than 30 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss.

“Communication is key…” is a phrase that each person might end up with differently, said Marta Koretkoska, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at SHU. “Communication brings out our humanity, enables us to share our hopes and dreams and share our basic needs. The ability to share our thoughts with others provides us with communication.”

The symptoms of language impairment that speech-language pathologists experience are often misunderstood as confusion or deficits in thought, said Christina Pino, M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Communication Disorders. “Someone may find it difficult to convey a message, but he is fully aware of the message he intends to send. Raising awareness of these disorders also leads to better education of the members of the community who will interact with these individuals, from the server in the restaurant to the cashier in the pharmacy.”

connect people

The theme for this year’s Best Speech and Hearing Month is “Connecting People”. SHU faculty in audiology and speech-language pathology believe that they connect their clients with the world around them. Skilled intervention from experts enables people with communication disorders to lead fulfilling lives.

“We connect people in many ways,” said Jimmy Maroto, director of the SHU Hearing Clinic and clinical assistant professor in the Division of Communication Disorders. Audiologists can connect people to the world, especially to their families and loved ones. Hearing loss can cause people to withdraw and isolate, but appropriate and well-appropriate treatment, such as hearing aids, leads to better communication habits and stronger communication.”

Ciara Leydon-Korn, chair of Communication Disorders, reiterated that communication disorders can be very isolating. However, she said, speech-language pathologists connect families by helping a child learn to form words, work with a parent to restore speech after an injury or safely eat grandparents. “By working with the client and family, speech-language pathologists can find the most satisfying and successful way to share needs, thoughts, and feelings using words, gestures, images, or technology,” said Leydon-Korn.

wrong concepts

The work of audiologists and speech-language pathologists is effective, Maroto said, but many people may not know the depth and breadth of both professions. “For example, audiologists can evaluate and treat balance disorders, where our balance centers are located in the inner ear, next to our hearing organ,” she explained.

“There are misconceptions about hearing aids,” she said, explaining that there are people who still think of hearing aids as heavy weight devices that do not perform well. She said technology has come a long way, and hearing aids are now small and discreet. They have sophisticated sound quality, and some It has the ability to recharge or has Bluetooth options.

“Many people either don’t know they have a hearing loss, or don’t seek treatment,” Maroto said. We know that hearing is linked to many other health conditions. For example, hearing impairment is more common in people with diabetes, compared to people of the same age who do not have it. We also know that people with untreated hearing loss are generally more likely to have some form of cognitive decline and/or dementia, in addition to balance problems.”

Noting that there are people under the impression that speech therapy does not work, Korytkowska emphasized, “There is research to show the opposite. There are examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of speech pathology services in both acquired disorders and progressive disorders for re-learning or maintaining abilities for a longer period.”

Eileen Masucci, MD, associate clinical professor of Communication Disorders, notes that speech-language pathologists who work with children are often seen as only addressing voice errors. “The scope of our practice of working with children begins at birth and continues into adulthood, going beyond the limited focus of speech sound errors,” Masucci said.

In fact, while speech-language pathologists already deal with disorders of speech production, they also assess and treat language, voice, fluency, swallowing, and social communication disorders at all levels of severity and in all settings. “Our field is broad and diverse when it comes to working with children,” Masucci said.

Student preparation

Interprofessional education and practice opportunities within SHU’s Bachelor’s Program in Communication Disorders and Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology allow students to learn alongside healthcare professionals. Under the supervision of a physician, students in the graduate program provide services to people with communication disabilities, Koretkovska said.

“Our students train to become skilled Learning and Teaching (SLP) specialists, working with clients who are motivated to continue their journey of recovery,” Pino said. SHU helps bring these two groups of learners together and engage in a mutually beneficial experience. This give-and-take approach is always recognized every semester by students and clients alike.”

During the first semester of the graduate program, Leydon-Korn said, students work with people with communication disorders. They are in schools or nursing facilities, and they learn and serve the community. Lydon Korn said they also work with children with speech, stuttering, and language disorders, and adults with voice, language, and swallowing disorders. In classrooms and small groups, students hone their clinical skills through case reviews and simulated scenarios that simulate real-world practice.

“Providing students with the opportunity to interact with other disciplines in school environments and skilled nursing facilities, participating in interprofessional seminars and participating in problem-based educational classes are just some examples of how the Communication Disorders Program can help students understand their role in a client’s recovery,” Benno said. “These training opportunities also promote the development of the skills required to be an effective team member.”

Visit the Communication Disorders webpage for additional information.

To download an image, visit SHU’s Photoshelter archive.


About Sacred Heart University

As the second largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest growing universities in the United States, Sacred Heart University is a nationally leading university in shaping higher education for the twenty-first century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs on campus in Fairfield, Connecticut. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg, and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students study in the university’s nine faculties and schools: Arts and Sciences; Communication, Media and the Arts; Social Service; computer science engineering; health professions; Isabel Farrington College of Education and Human Development; Jack Welch College of Business and Technology; Dr. Susan L. Davis, RN, and Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; The College of St. Vincent. The Sacred Heart is distinguished from other Catholic institutions in that it was founded and led by laity. The Contemporary Catholic University is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, while at the same time developing students to be forward thinkers who enact change – in their lives, careers, and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its contents Best 387 Colleges – Edition 2022The “Best Northeast” and Best Business Schools – Edition 2022. Sacred Heart is home to award-winning radio station affiliated with NPR, WSHU, Division I athletics program, and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, ensemble, dance and theater.


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