Facilitating Critical Reflections About Disability Among Students in Speech-Language Pathology Disability scholars argue that it is crucial for clinical professionals to critically examine the dominant and alternative discourses about disability, reflect on their own assumptions about disability, and contemplate the different roles they might take in relation to their patients. To date there are few studies examining how disability is ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2011
Facilitating Critical Reflections About Disability Among Students in Speech-Language Pathology
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Betty Yu
    Program in Communicative Disorders, Department of Special Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
  • Laura Epstein
    Program in Communicative Disorders, Department of Special Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / Language Disorders / Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2011
Facilitating Critical Reflections About Disability Among Students in Speech-Language Pathology
SIG 10 Perspectives on Issues in Higher Education, June 2011, Vol. 14, 11-20. doi:10.1044/ihe14.1.11
SIG 10 Perspectives on Issues in Higher Education, June 2011, Vol. 14, 11-20. doi:10.1044/ihe14.1.11

Disability scholars argue that it is crucial for clinical professionals to critically examine the dominant and alternative discourses about disability, reflect on their own assumptions about disability, and contemplate the different roles they might take in relation to their patients. To date there are few studies examining how disability is conceptualized by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), or how those ideas affect their approach to working with persons with disabilities. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether shifts in the teaching approaches along medical, social, and experiential continua had an impact on how students in a Communicative Disorders course conceptualized the nature of developmental communicative disorders and the roles of the SLP in working with children with developmental communicative disorders. Reflective essays were collected and analyzed for 22 graduate and 38 undergraduate students in an introductory course on developmental communication disorders where different ways of thinking about disability were introduced over the course of a semester. The findings showed that most students at the start of the class held beliefs that were strongly aligned with the medical model of disability. It also showed that being introduced to different disability frameworks led them to reconceptualize both the notion of developmental communication disorders and SLP roles vis-à-vis children with communication disorders. Finally, the findings highlighted complexities and tensions involved in issues of disability in the clinical context. These results support the need for a systematic infusion and critical examination of disability perspectives in Communicative Disorders curricula.

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