MTSU Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology Program celebrates new clinic opening, 50th anniversary

Photo by Caleb Revill / MTSU Sidelines

MTSU’s Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Program hosted an open house on Friday in celebration of the program’s new home on campus. The open house fell on the 50th anniversary of the program.

The clinic serves to assist people with different impediments, ranging from autism to language disorders and hearing difficulties.

“Some of (our clients) have autism and Down syndrome, but some of them are just here because they have a lisp and they can’t say their S’s,” said Elizabeth Smith, the coordinator of the speech clinic . “So, we really (work with) that whole spectrum of communication disorders.”

Because of many donations and a grant from the Christy-Houston Foundation, the clinic has been able to transition into a larger building with nine therapy rooms.

“I think we see the greatest excitement in our students,” Smith said. “Our MTSU students are the most excited because of the technology increase and the space increase.”

The open house was held at the new clinic on the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Gym. The facility has 1,000 more square feet than the old clinic in the Boutwell Building.

MTSU students participating in the program are given hands-on experience working with clients both young and old to treat and, in some cases, overcome their individual disabilities.

Alexis Gonzalez, a senior majoring in speech pathology, works at the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Clinic.

“We’re one of the only undergraduate universities that have a clinic,” Gonzalez said. “So, it definitely makes us unique. When we’re applying to graduate school, like we are right now, we kind of have a leg up. We can say that we’ve already had clinical practicums.”

According to United States Bureau of Labor statistics, the projected percent change in job growth for speech-language pathologists is expected to be 21 percent. This is much faster than the compared 7 percent average for all professions.

“People (may) say that we just help people speak, which is not true,” Gonzalez said. “You help language. You help behavior and social interaction between people. I think a speech pathologist wears many hats.”

Eugene Johnson, the chapter leader for the Middle Tennessee chapter of the National Stuttering Association attended the new clinic’s opening. He stutters, but is able to manage his symptoms with the help from speech therapists.

“You don’t overcome (stuttering),” Johnson said. “You learn to manage it. A lot of times, stuttering affects you socially. For example, imagine being in a restaurant, and you’re sitting around with your friends, who look at the menu, and they are able to pronounce what they want. A person who stutters looks at the menu, and he orders what he can pronounce.”

Every year, Johnson’s chapter comes to MTSU to talk to undergraduate speech and language students about what it’s like to be a person who stutters.

“One thing that the speech and language therapists help us do is they give us speech techniques to help us to overcome those situations so we won’t stutter,” Johnson said.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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