My Connection to the Research

At five years old, I expressed to my mom that when I “grew up,” I wanted to be a speech pathologist.  At the time, my younger brother was receiving therapy, and all I knew about the field was that “speech sessions were fun.”  Little did I know that, even 16 years later, my desires as a five-year-old would match my career choice.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve spent my time at NIU working towards a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, which will set me up to attend a Master’s program for Speech-Language Pathology.

The thing I love most about this field is, of course, providing an avenue for effective communication for individuals who have limited language abilities.  The field is unique in that it provides the opportunity to work in a variety of environments.  As an aspiring SLP, I have the potential to work in a hospital, clinic, school district, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation center with a variety of client populations.  Because I’ve always loved children and have a heart for those who experience hardship, academic setbacks, or social barriers, my goal is to work as an SLP for a school district.

As a clinician in the school setting, my client population will likely consist largely of elementary aged students.  The topic of morphological awareness is especially important for younger clients learning to read and spell.  Many of my younger clients will be at a critical age for acquiring vocabulary, gaining proficiency in reading, and learning how to spell multimorphemic words.  As I encounter students on my caseload with poor literacy skills, my awareness of the link to morphological awareness will benefit me in identifying the root of my students’ weaknesses. speech-and-language

Looking deeper, the driving force behind my motivation to complete this project is the link between language impairment and low self-esteem, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and several other characteristics in adolescents—all of which have been linked with higher rates of suicide (Reed, 2012).  In order to eliminate adolescent language impairment and reduce risk for the associated social and emotional factors, language skills must be remediated as early as possible.  By diving into this project, I’m learning the most effective ways for identifying language deficits and intervention strategies in students who have deficits in morphological awareness.  Although this will only account for some of my students with language impairment, it is an important piece of the puzzle and critical for students with deficits in literacy skills.

Reed, V.A.  (2012). An introduction to children with language disorders (4th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education, Inc.

by Marissa DeVlieger


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