Emersonians Present Thesis Research at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention

American Speech-Language Hearing Association Convention



Every year, the national American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) hosts its annual convention that attracts hundreds of thousands of speech-language pathologists and audiologists from the United States and abroad. The convention upheld it’s bicoastal tradition by hosting this year’s convention in Los Angeles, California after last year’s convention located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The purpose of ASHA’s conventions are for the dissemination of information on the evaluation, treatment, and management communication disorders. This past November, five Emerson graduate students (Allison Koenig, Divya Swaminathan, Carolyn Babeu, Alison Baade, and Meredith Sager) attended the convention in LA. This year’s ASHA conference theme was “Focus on the Big Picture,” which challenges all clinicians to broaden their perspective as it relates to professional practice as well as our daily lives.


Swaminathan presented her research she is working on for her Master’s thesis project about Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies. Swaminathan’s research has been chosen to be published in the ASHA Leader, a monthly journal that many speech-language pathologists and audiologists are subscribed to.


Students sit around a table, eating pizza
Students at the ASHA Recap Event

According to Swaminathan, “This study used data collected from a nationally distributed survey which asked school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to note their use of Response to Intervention (RTI) for students with speech sound disorders. Response to Intervention (RTI) is an optional approach to service delivery under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This approach aims to implement a prevention model using multiple tiers of intervention involving increasingly intensive and specialized instruction. In the 2004 amendment, a clause about RTI was included in the regulations for identifying children with specific learning disabilities, as determined by each state. This system could also be implemented to identify children with SSDs or extend to other communication disorders depending on a state’s interpretation of this clause (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2004). These interpretations vary widely across states and U.S. regions according to the state guidelines. This study specifically examined factors that may affect whether or not an SLP may use RTI to treat these students in the school system. Some factors to be examined will include the SLPs caseload size, where SLPs are receiving their guidelines from, and how many years of experience SLPs have. By examining these variables, the results of this study can affect how schools and states understand and use RTI for students with speech sound disorders. As there seems to be ambiguity and variability in how states define and use RTI, investigating the potential factors that could cause this variability may in turn impact how states and schools adjust their standards for eligibility and for the use of RTI.”


After their return, the ASHA conference goers shared their experiences at the ASHA Recap Event with fellow first and second year peers. Discussion during the recap event includes how to navigate the exhibition hall for the evidence based products, up and coming research in the areas of dysphagia, speech, hearing, and language disorders, and presentations on treatment techniques and assessments for a wide array clients ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. Research that was discussed includes dysphagia evaluation, echolalia for language learning, and how to rock your clinical fellowship year.


The national ASHA convention will take place in Boston in November 2018.


Check out our Facebook for upcoming events! – CSD Connections 2017-2018


About the authors

Sarah-Anne Tanner
Sarah-Anne Tanner


Sarah-Anne Tanner is a Boston native in her first year of the MS in Communication Sciences & Disorders at Emerson. She has a Bachelor’s in History from Wesleyan University and currently lives in Somerville.

Kate Maxwell
Kate Maxwell
Kate Maxwell is a first year graduate student at Emerson College studying Communication Sciences & Disorders. She is originally from Rochester, New York and moved to Brookline to start her master’s degree and ultimately become a speech-language pathologist.