SLP Students

COLUMBUS, Miss.-- On Sept. 8-10, Emma Grace Olsen, Mary Ashley Hammons, Hannah Harrison, Claire Wiygul, Barbara Doorenbos, Kallie Smith and Sydney Minton, all first-year graduate speech language pathology students, conducted speech, language and hearing screenings for Clay County Head Start in West Point. Dr. Kathy Shapley and Ashley Alexander provided training and supervision for the students.

This was the first time Olsen, who is from Booneville, and Hammons, who is from Greenwood, have administered screenings outside a laboratory setting.

“It was a wonderful opportunity, and I am grateful we were able to provide these services for some of the children in Clay County,” Olsen said. Olsen earned her bachelor’s degree in SLP from The W in May 2020. Olsen said her mother and two sisters are also health care providers. Her mom and one sister are physical therapists and another sister is an occupational therapist. Olsen believes this experience of working in the community has shown her how rewarding it is to provide intervention services for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
In order to screen hearing, children must raise their hand when they hear “beeps.” To do this, Olsen told the children she had little birdies in “boxes” (audiometers) and told the children to raise their hand when they hear the birdies. Olsen said it was heartwarming to see how enthusiastic some children were to raise their hands, and one little boy thought it was so neat that he got to wear “some cool headphones.”
Hammons is studying SLP because she always has had a desire to work in the medical field to provide care for those in need. She said the field provides endless opportunities for growth for speech-language pathologists and their clients.

“I felt as if I was smiling the whole day,” Hammons said. “There were many children who came in extremely anxious, but being able to adapt to each child’s needs, being able to read the situation and giving them an overview of what will take place eased their nerves. By doing so, we established a rapport even though interaction time was short.”
Olsen and Hammons said articulation screenings involve showing a child a picture, asking him/her to label the picture and recording any articulation errors. Screening language involves a child labeling (expressive language) or pointing to pictures (receptive language). A language screening looks at a child’s use and understanding of vocabulary words, sentence structure. Screenings are meant to be completed quickly and they operate on a system of pass or refer for a diagnostic evaluation.
“The experience the graduate clinicians gained in their time at the Clay County Head Start Center not only gave them an opportunity to conduct speech, language and hearing screenings, but also taught them how to adapt their approach to assessment for preschool-age students versus school-age students or adults,” said Alexander, an instructor and clinical supervisor in The W’s SLP Department.

“This was a win-win opportunity for our graduate students and the children enrolled in Clay County Head Start,” said Shapley, the chair of The W’s SLP Department. “Hands-on activities like this are valuable training opportunities for our students. Conducting speech, language and hearing screenings is something these students will continue to do long after they have graduated. In addition, children enrolled in Head Start may have a speech, language or hearing disorder. Early identification and intervention are key to helping these children have better academic outcomes. The results of these screenings will provide valuable information to their Head Start teachers.”

Sept. 29, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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