Smiling back is Maggie Gadbois, a second-year Communication and Sciences Disorders (CSD) graduate student, who is working with Kampa to help her gain a better use of her communication device.
Kampa has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic. When she speaks, she uses her eyes to answer a question or turn a phrase using a computer screen. A form of augmentive alternative communication (AAC), Kampa’s computer uses eye gaze technology to access her computer system and uses a computerized voice to communicate.
This is known as a speech-generating device. She scrolls her eyes across the screen to find the words and phrases she wants to express.
“I want to learn how to do more things with my computer,” Kampa said. “My goal is to communicate better, and I want to write a book. My biggest goal is to be more independent.”
For now though, she’s both learning and teaching at St. Cloud State through her therapy sessions. Kampa is one of almost 40 clients served each semester by St. Cloud State’s on-campus Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic in Brown Hall.
The clinic offers a range of diagnostic and therapy services both in speech-language and hearing for children and adults from throughout St. Cloud and Central Minnesota. Services are provided by the graduate program’s 39 students, who are learning how to work with people and put the concepts they’ve learned in the classroom into practice.
“Our department is known for being a strong clinical program, and I think it’s because we really put our students in a lot of different situations and they get to work with a lot of different clients,” said Rebecca Crowell, CSD department chair.
Each student must log 400 hours of clinical experience as part of their program and do so by working with a variety of people with different needs.
They work with young children on forming words, help young adults with autism navigate daily life better and help older adults who have dementia or are recovering from stroke or other traumatic brain injuries.
Working in the clinic gives students the chance to work with people while receiving necessary guidance from faculty, who work in the clinic alongside the students and supervise their work, Crowell said.
The clinic is also a resource for faculty members who use it to gauge their students’ understanding of the concepts and practice new techniques in CSD. All faculty members who teach in the master’s program also do clinical supervision, which is a unique aspect of St. Cloud State’s program that helps it better prepare students, she said.
“At the end of the day what students want is to be able to do the job when they graduate, and it’s the clinical training that allows them to go out ready for the job,” Crowell said.
Serving the community
The Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic doesn’t charge for its services and so it has been able to help people dismissed from therapy by insurance for not making enough progress, Crowell said.
Preparing students, expanding lives
The demand for speech-language pathologists is so high that every student who graduates with their master’s from the program finds work, Crowell said.
“We can’t graduate enough students to fill the need,” she said. “It’s just amazing. The demand is high both in education and medical settings.”
“Really she is the teacher of clinicians,” Gadbois said of Kampa. “She has used alternative communication her entire life.” “We work together,” she said. “The students help me, and I help them.”