This past winter saw the opening of the new Adult Outpatient Teaching Clinic at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (SCSD). Lauren Tittley, director of the clinic, began preparing for the opening in the fall of 2017 with several objectives in mind. As a teaching clinic, the first objective is providing clinical opportunities to students to work with specialized adult populations with acquired language disorders including aphasia, cognitive communication disorders, and motor-speech disorders. “All of our students should be prepared to work with adults as well as kids” she says on good authority as a clinician who has used her training to work with adults in a variety of clinical contexts. Ms. Tittley also worked closely with new SCSD faculty member Dr. Noémie Auclair-Ouellet to find ways to bring current research to the clinical setting (see Dr. Auclair-Ouellet’s biography in insert). Finally, Ms. Tittley spoke with clinicians in the Montreal community to get a sense of what gaps they see in services provided to adults. The clinic aims to fill this gap by providing services to those who might be under-served in the public system.
Ms. Lauren Titley, recent M.Sc.A graduates Johanne Gruber and Kristine Pennell and clients
Student Perspectives: The Need for Creativity
Six months since opening, the clinic currently serves 21 clients with a variety of acquired language disorders. Alexandra Barbeau-Morrison and Heather Reid are two M.Sc.A. students completing their final internship in the clinic. Over their internship, they have been taking on increasing responsibility and independence in planning both group and individual sessions as well as for the daily workings of the clinic. “It takes a lot of creativity to work with adults,” says Heather, “you have to come up with goals that are relevant and meaningful.” To illustrate this need for creativity, Alexandra and Heather have worked on goals like writing and rehearsing a wedding speech for a client with aphasia, working with a stroke survivor to sign his name in a book he had written before his stroke, or educating family members on how to become better communication partners to help their loved one.
Recent M. Sc.A graduates Heather Reid and Alexandra Barbeau-Morrison
Future Directions & Specific Needs of the Adult Population
Clinical programs in speech-language pathology have historically placed greater emphasis on the pediatric population. “We can’t just take our training with children and apply it to adults,” observed Heather after her experience in the clinic. “For example, the goals for rehabilitation are different from the goals for acute care or other contexts. I think students would benefit from making these distinctions more salient.” In designing her courses on applied neurolinguistics, Dr. Auclair-Ouellet has taken the opportunity to rethink aspects of the curriculum to best prepare students for the current realities of working with adults. One aspect is the need to expand the focus beyond just rehabilitation, many of whom have chronic or degenerative conditions. “SLPs and researchers have come to realize that rehabilitation is not the only goal,” reflects Dr. Auclair-Ouellet on a perspective gaining traction in the field, “but that we can also help clients compensate for their difficulties and prepare themselves for what is to come.” In the future, Dr. Auclair-Ouellet sees the clinic as a way to provide training for work with a broader spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases as well as involve students in research on acquired language disorders.
While only in its first few months of operation, the Adult Outpatient Teaching Clinic is an illustration of the fruitful intersection of education, research, and community service at SCSD. Future students will have not only the chance to work in the clinic, but also to help shape its growth and impact on the community.
Biography of Dr. Auclair-Ouellet
Noémie Auclair-Ouellet joined the SCSD as an Assistant Professor in the 2017-2018 school year. Dr. Auclair-Ouellet has a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Université Laval, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine from Université Laval and Université de Neuchâtel. During her Ph.D., she worked on semantic dementia and aimed to identify factors that would lead to a better diagnosis of this rare form of dementia. Afterwards, Dr. Auclair-Ouellet did a post-doctorate training in Calgary, during which she looked at neuroimaging and the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Her current research focuses on Parkinson’s disease and chronic aphasia. Among other things, she aims to develop language assessment tools adapted to the needs of patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.