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LSU Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic offers new services

LSU, the state's flagship university, is home to some of the country's top ranked programs. The ceramics program is ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report; landscape architecture has consistently been a top-ranked program by DesignIntelligence; and the Center for Internal Auditing is used as a model for other programs around the world, just to name a few. But many people may not realize that LSU is also home to one of Baton Rouge's most a highly referred speech, language and hearing clinics.

Graduate students in the master's degree program in speech-language pathology provide therapy at the LSU Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic.
Eddy Perez/LSU University Relations

Located in the basement of Hatcher Hall, the LSU Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic is dedicated to serving individuals with communication delays and disorders. The clinic provides services to more than 300 clients every semester. Services provided include diagnostics in child and adult speech, language, reading, feeding and hearing; individual and group therapy; caregiver education; assessment of voice and resonance; accent modification; assessment of auditory processing disorders; and hearing aid dispensing.

The clinic functions as a vital part of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders by providing opportunities for advanced clinical training and research.

"Our clinic runs on a semester basis," said Wendy Jumonville, coordinator of clinical services at the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic. "Graduate students provide all the therapy and are supervised by master's-level speech pathologists."

While the clinic has been in operation for years, two new services have become available this semester that has both students and faculty excited about the opportunities to help more clients in the Baton Rouge community.

This fall, the clinic opened its newest expanded space – a language, learning and disabilities therapy gym, which graduate students have affectionately nicknamed "Club 5," after its room number.

With the new therapy gym space, the clinic has been able to enhance and expand services offered.

"We utilize that gym for language intervention and feeding therapy," said Courtney Gonsoulin, instructor at the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic. "I work with each graduate student, helping them individually, their intervention based on their client's needs."

Feeding therapy in particular is a service that both clients and students requested to be enhanced at the clinic.

"There was a need for that intervention and its very skill specific," said Shannon Farho, instructor at the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic. "Not everybody has the training to do that."

According to Farho, they analyzed both the needs of the community and training opportunities that students need to become professional speech-language pathologists.

This fall, the clinic opened its newest expanded space – a language, learning and disabilities therapy gym used for language intervention and feeding therapy.
Eddy Perez/LSU University Relations

Children who are seen in feeding therapy include those who have difficulty feeding and swallowing, whether the cause is behavioral, sensory or more from a medical origin.

"This clinic was designed to help meet the needs of those children to help them learn how to eat and drink as safely and as efficiently as possible," Gonsoulin said.

The idea behind the new therapy gym started in the spring with the help of the Office of Academic Affairs and Vice Provost for Human Resources and Facilities Management Jane Cassidy. The new space was turned over to the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic in July 2013. With the hard work of faculty and students to get the room ready, they began to see patients in the new area at the start of the fall semester.

"The concept behind that – of it being more of a therapy gym –  is more in line with our profession in the field, so the experience they [graduate students] are going to get here looks more like real world," Gonsoulin said. "It allows our students to learn how to grow as a clinician."

The room is adaptable and can be arranged as clientele changes. Therapy options offered are kid specific and based on the goals that are trying to be reached. Populations served are diverse and their needs vary. Diagnoses include children with autism, apraxia, feeding disorders, hearing impairment, stuttering, Down syndrome, specific language impairment and voice disorders.   

Rebecca Gouvier, speech-language pathologist and instructor at the LSU Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic, also utilizes the new space to work with groups of children after school on literate language intervention. The room is flexible and allows for social interaction in group therapy, along with helping to meet individualized needs.

There's been a buzz around the clinic since the new therapy room opened with both graduate and undergraduate students taking an interest. The LSU chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association donates their time in helping keep the room clean and organized and assists on projects as needed.

In addition to services offered for children, the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic is available for adult therapy services. Some of the types of clients referred to the clinic include those who have suffered a stroke or have Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injuries or dementia. The clinic also assists in accent modification for those who do public speaking.

Feeding therapy is a service that has been enhanced at the clinic, and children who are seen include those who have difficulty feeding and swallowing.
Eddy Perez/LSU University Relations

Jumonville said that anyone can receive services from the clinic and that they take both medical- and self-referrals. While more parking is desired, clients can park on Fieldhouse Drive or near the Cox Communications Academic Center. The clinic recently acquired a departmental golf cart to transport non-ambulatory clients to and from the facility.

The clinic also has a new partnership with the University Lab School to provide speech-language pathology services and a returning partnership with the LSU Child Care Center to conduct annual speech-language hearing screenings.

"We really try to serve our family on campus," Farho said.

The LSU master's program in speech-language pathology is a two-year program with approximately 25 graduates each year. Graduates go on to work in hospitals, schools, rehab clinics, private practices and home health agencies. Recent graduates from LSU have gone on to work across the state and across the country. For more information on the program, visit http://appl003.lsu.edu/artsci/comd.nsf/$Content/MA+in+Speech-Language+Pathology?OpenDocument.

For more information on the Speech, Language, Hearing Clinic, visit http://appl003.lsu.edu/artsci/comd.nsf/$Content/General+Information+-+Clinic?OpenDocument.
The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders is part of the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences. For more, visit http://hss.lsu.edu/.