The three instructors play and sing with their young charges. A chorus of the ABCs, a round of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and a verse of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. The children are laughing and singing—and mindful of the words, the emphasis their instructors are placing on syllables and how to form the sounds.
This is the University of Houston Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, part of the department of communication sciences and disorders.
“Our ability to communicate with others is what makes us unique,” said Professor Lynn Maher, department chair. “We are about training speech language pathologists to work with individuals who have communication disorders. We are the only academic program in the city of Houston that trains speech language pathologist.”
Maher says there is a shortage of speech pathologists in the country, though five to ten percent of the population lives with a communication disorder—children or adults who stutter, for example, or stroke survivors who are relearning how to form words. The issue may be language development, fluency or other voice disorders. Student training to confront these challenges go through a vigorous degree plan that includes externships and community service hours with area partner agencies in schools, hospitals and clinics. Last year students gave more than 12,000 hours of service.
“It’s a privilege to be able to work in this field. It’s a privilege to be able to work with the students and it’s a real privilege to be able to share in someone’s journey,” Maher said.
Communication Sciences is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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