September 28, 2021


How speech language pathology supports care for preemies, kids, the elderly and more

Speech language pathologists treat patients with a range of health issues, from preemies in the NICU, to Parkinson’s patients, to those struggling with long-haul COVID-19. But finding treatment can be difficult. DePaul is meeting that need by starting a new graduate program and opening a community clinic to assist underserved children and adult clients in Chicago. Jayne Jaskolski joins the podcast to discuss the clinic and the new graduate program she directs.



LINDA BLAKLEY: Welcome to DePaul Download. I'm your host, Linda Blakley, vice president for University Marketing and Communications. I've traditionally associated speech language pathology with people recovering from brain trauma or children with speech delays. However, after meeting Dr. Jayne Jaskolski, I learned the scope of this clinical practice is so much more. Dr. Jaskolski, known around campus as Dr. J, is the founding program director for DePaul's Speech Language Pathology Program. She joins us today for another episode of the podcast to talk about her professional experience in the field about DePaul's new clinic and SLP program and what makes this work so incredibly important to the community. Welcome, Dr. J.

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Thank you so much for inviting me today.

LINDA BLAKLEY: This fall, you are launching the Speech Language Pathology Program here at DePaul and opening a public-facing clinic on campus. But first, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, what drew you to the field of speech language pathology, and to come to DePaul?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Sure. I am passionate about our field of speech language pathology. My professional interest is in language, literacy, and learning in children and adolescents. But across my career, I've been blessed to work in a variety of different settings, such as in neonatal intensive care working with feeding pre-term infants. I've worked in outpatient settings in home health with children and toddlers, and I've worked in public schools and private practice. But I love teaching. I love the field of speech language pathology, whether it's working with parents and educators or students here at DePaul. What I'm really excited about is to have this opportunity to develop this brand-new program here at DePaul. DePaul being one of the largest - or being the largest Catholic university, I love our mission here at DePaul. We have the phrase at DePaul that we use as part of our Vincentian mission, what must be done, and that's something that all of the faculty speak to on a regular basis. And we talk to interested students about what makes DePaul different. I chose to come to DePaul because the College of Science and Health has a strong commitment to creating innovative health care programming, and it's really their commitment to education and innovation and diversity and equity that really fires myself and all of our faculty up to create this top-notch program.

LINDA BLAKLEY: I was impressed to learn about the many ways speech language pathologists help patients from preemies in the NICU, Alzheimer's patients, and those even suffering from long-haul COVID-19. Tell us about the field and why there is a critical need for people to pursue this career.

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Sure. In the field of speech language pathology, we work with a variety of clients across nine different types of disorders. Let me tell you a little bit about those disorders. You mentioned some of them, such as maybe adults that have had a stroke, that may have some difficulty with swallowing, which we call dysphasia, or difficulty with cognitive functioning, such as with attention and memory and sequencing, or maybe it's their ability to express their thoughts and ideas any longer. We also work with clients that have fluency and stuttering problems, children, adolescents, and adults that have receptive and expressive language difficulty. And again, that could be the comprehension of understanding language around them or expressing their own thoughts and ideas. We work with clients with voice and resonance difficulty. For example, here at DePaul, we'll have individual and group therapy for gender-affirming voice clients here in our program. We work with children and adults that would have speech production problems, speech sound disorders, or articulation disorders. And a really exciting aspect is working with clients who can't speak verbally, so they would need some augmentative and alternative communication in order to express their thoughts and ideas. And finally, we work with hearing and how hearing impacts speech and language, as well as the social aspects of communication. We'll be having social communication groups for clients here on campus who have characteristics of autism spectrum disorder.

LINDA BLAKLEY: The Speech Language Pathology Program is welcoming its first cohort of students this fall. Tell us what sets the DePaul program apart. Just how is it different from other speech language pathology programs?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: One of the amazing things about our program here at DePaul is that we're located here in the heart of Chicago, right in Lincoln Park, so we have public transportation for all of our students and clients to have easy access to come to our program and to receive services here. Another thing that makes our program stand out is that we have highly trained faculty, and our faculty is extraordinary in terms of their breadth of experience and knowledge that they're going to bring. Our faculty will be serving not only as professors teaching in our program, but they'll also remain clinical educators and be working with clinical teams on a regular basis in our clinic.

LINDA BLAKLEY: DePaul intentionally created a holistic admissions process to help draw a diverse group of applicants. Why was that important to you, to DePaul, and to the profession?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: So, what we know from the American Speech and Hearing Association, or ASHA, is that as of 2020 there was over 188,000 speech language pathologists. And of those speech language pathologists, 95.5% of them are female. And of those speech pathologists, only 8.5% of those ASHA members identify as being part of the racial minority. So, what we're passionate about at DePaul is to have a holistic admissions process to make sure that we're admitting diverse students to the program to send back out to work as speech language pathologists across the country with people that look like themselves.

LINDA BLAKLEY: Okay. I'm going to flip the script a little bit here. So, what can students expect to take away from this program?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: So, our program, we have amazing faculty that are bringing a breadth of both clinical and research experience to work with students. Students will be trained with coursework, basic science coursework, such as neurogenics, basis of communication, they'll have a breadth of courses in different types of disorders, including autism, aphasia, motor speech disorders, and then they'll be working in our in-house brand-new clinic. And our clinic students will be working for four quarters before they head out to their clinical externships. And we have a donation-based clinic which is very unique, especially here in Chicago, where we can go and make sure that students are going to have both the breadth and depth of different types of clients that they'll be working with, and we'll be serving clients that are both underserved and unserved in other health care venues.  

LINDA BLAKLEY: Now you've mentioned the quality of our faculty members a couple of times. Can you tell us about what our faculty are going to bring to the program?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Our faculty are highly trained with clinical doctorates, with PhDs. They're bringing research experience as well as clinical experience. All of our faculty remain clinical practitioners themselves. So, they're going to be available to be working with students both in didactic coursework, working in the clinic, and working on research if students are interested in completing a master's thesis.

LINDA BLAKLEY: So, you've mentioned the clinic, and I've heard you describe it as being at the heart of both the graduate program and DePaul's Vincentian mission. What makes this clinic so special? DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: So, the clinic is - will be accepting clients from the community ranging from young children through adults with a variety of communication and swallowing disorders to provide our speech language pathology students with that breadth of clinical experience that's required for them to graduate and to become professionals. But in addition to that, we're actually serving our community as well. We're going to be able to provide a variety of different type of service delivery models for both individual and group therapy across all the different types of disorders, and we'll be able to provide that in a means for clients that may not be able to get services elsewhere.

LINDA BLAKLEY: So, who is helping us identify and spread the word that the clinic is open? Do we have community partners?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: We have amazing community partners. We have over 100 community partners that we're already working with. We partner with large medical providers in Chicago, such as Sinai Health, AMITA, University of Chicago. We have partnerships with very specialized facilities like Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, or VA centers such as Hines VA or Jesse Brown VA. We have partnerships with clinics in the Chicagoland area, such as Chicago Speech Therapy who, in fact, has put together our very first scholarships we have for our program through the Karen George Scholarships. We have contracts with school districts, such as Chicago Public Schools and U-46, which is the second largest school district in the state of Illinois. And we also partner with other educational systems, such as Rosalind Franklin who is one of our partners where our students will be able to go to Rosalind Franklin and experience amazing medical simulation experiences with their faculty.

LINDA BLAKLEY: So, I understand that the program also offers a bilingual certificate in Spanish and the clinic will offer services in Spanish. Why was that important to DePaul and to our city of Chicago?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Oh, as you know, there's a wide-ranging language diversity presence here in Chicago as well as across the United States. In Chicago alone, we have over 153 different languages spoken in homes. That means that 29% of the metropolitan area over the age of five speaks a language other than English at home. So, because of that, we want to make sure that we are training our speech language pathologists to go out into those communities. Illinois ranks as one of the top ten states in the country with the largest Latino population, so this is so critical that we are able to go and meet the needs of these Latino communities where our families reside. So, we'll be able to offer both coursework as well as clinical experiences in-house and in the community for our speech language pathologists to be working with these populations.

LINDA BLAKLEY: I understand that the clinic provides speech and language evaluations and therapy to all individuals regardless of their ability to pay. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Sure. We're able to meet the needs of people in the Chicagoland area that might be underserved or unserved in other health care facilities. For example, a family may have used all of their benefits for health care therapy services at a different provider and no longer have access for therapy, so we'll be able to both evaluate and provide treatment to children and adults who are in need of these specialized services regardless if they are able to pay for those services.

LINDA BLAKLEY: So, is there a very broad access gap?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: So, we want to make sure that we are committed to meeting the diverse and urgent needs of our Chicago community and providing equitable access for these speech and language services to all individuals regardless of their societal, their economic, their religious, or cultural communities. Many of these groups are historically underserved in other health care areas.

LINDA BLAKLEY: Interesting. I have a follow-up to that. What are some of the programs the clinic has planned?

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: So, at our clinic, we'll be offering a continuum of care models in our clinic. We'll be able to offer individual therapy sessions for clients in need, both for evaluations and treatment, and we also have the opportunity to do some specialized groups, such as child language and literacy groups, aphasia, phenology groups. And we'll also be serving specialized communities, such as Parkinson's or transgender voice. We'll be doing some summer camps as well, some intensive therapy for children with language and literacy disorders or apraxia, as well as things like disfluency and stuttering.

LINDA BLAKLEY: Dr. J, this program and the clinic are incredibly close to DePaul's Vincentian mission and will likely have a lasting impact on communities who may not otherwise have had access to these evaluations and therapies. I hope we get the chance to talk again soon. Perhaps next time, we will be talking about the clinic's early successes and maybe some patient stories as well.

DR. JAYNE JASKOLSKI: Thank you so much for having me here today, and it's been such a privilege to talk about our new DePaul Speech Language Pathology Program.

LINDA BLAKLEY: For more information about the program and the clinic, please visit go.depaul.edu/slp. I'm Linda Blakley. Thank you for listening to another episode of DePaul Download presented by DePaul's Division of University Marketing and Communications.