K-State Speech and Hearing Center serves Kansas, expands facility
By Danya Morris
According to statistics from the Speech and Hearing Center at Kansas State University, one of every 10 people in the United States has a speech, language or hearing problem. In Kansas, approximately 200,000 people are faced with one of these disorders.
At K-State, the Speech and Hearing Center aims to provide high quality, comprehensive services to individuals with communication disorders. Robert Garcia, program director of communication sciences and disorders at K-State, said the center, located on the K-State campus, treats very young children to the elderly.
Through the center, the communication sciences and disorders faculty works closely with K-State students as well.
"All of our faculty who teach courses also teach in the clinic. This way, they are more likely to be in touch with the needs of students and clients. Faculty can be involved in the training and see what improvements are needed, as well as having people of expertise in the clinic," Garcia said.
Some individuals refer themselves to the speech and hearing center, while others are recommended through an agency, physician, family member or friend. Most are from Manhattan or the surrounding area.
With 80 undergraduate and 24 graduate students, K-State offers a fully operational center. A wide range of communication disorders are evaluated through speech-language pathology services. This includes language and articulation, stuttering, voice disorders, acquired communication impairment post-head injury, acquired communication impairment post stroke, accent reduction, swallowing disorders and language impairment due to hearing loss.
Once a patient has been evaluated and diagnosed, a treatment plan is created specifically for the patient. The individual is scheduled for therapy under the supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist.
The Speech and Hearing Center also serves Kansans by providing comprehensive hearing evaluations and aural rehabilitation services.
The rehabilitation program for the hearing impaired consists of a hearing aid evaluation, hearing aid fitting and individual therapy sessions. Garcia said there are four main goals the center has for aural rehabilitation.
"We want to provide an individual with appropriate amplification, teach them assertive listening through therapy, give them realistic expectations with regard to using the amplification system and work on improving their listening skills," he said.
Garcia recommends looking for certain signs if you suspect an individual may suffer from hearing loss. In adults, people may have to repeat themselves several times to communicate with a hearing impaired person. Others tend to compensate for the loss in hearing by speaking louder. It usually appears gradually, without the individual realizing it, Garcia said.
It can be more difficult to identify auditory processing problems in children. Garcia said children typically won't complain because they don't realize there is a problem. They usually make an effort to stare at faces when spoken to. It can be difficult for a child to comprehend information presented orally, even if the child has a normal level of intelligence.
According to the communication sciences and disorders department, graduates of the master's program at K-State consistently score above the national average on the examination for Certification of Clinical Competence. More than half of the students choose to work in the state of Kansas after graduation, with the majority in public schools and hospital rehabilitation, Garcia said.
To meet the needs of the growing training and research center, a new facility is planned at K-State. Ground breaking for the new Speech and Hearing Center will be in April 2004. The site for the center is located at the Campus Creek Complex near Justin Hall on the K-State campus.
The expanded Speech and Hearing Center will provide more lab space for teaching and conducting research. Garcia said he expects construction of the facility to wrap up within a year.
The communication sciences and disorders program at K-State is accredited for Speech-Language Pathology by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Image: A drawing of the future Speech and Hearing Center at K-State. Groundbreaking for the center will be in April 2004.
Image courtesy Rita Newell.