The new DePaul Speech and Language clinic located in Lincoln Park which opened on September 23 embodies the Vincentian mission by providing service to the DePaul community and beyond.
The clinic will not only provide services, but it will also house classrooms and hands-on learning spaces for the Occupational Therapy Graduate Program scheduled to launch in fall 2022. The School of Nursing, as well as the Department of Psychology, will also collaborate on research and learning within the clinic.
Part of increasing diversity and access to the speech-language pathology clinic will be providing services to bilingual families. DePaul will also be offering a bilingual English-Spanish certificate program.
Currently, the clinic accepts screenings and assessments. Therapy sessions will begin in January 2022.
The clinic will deal with the following aspects of communication: fluency, voice disorders, joints, speech and sound disorders, swallowing and people who need other means of communication.
Jayne E. Jaskolski, director of the speech therapy program, was hired two and a half years ago to come and build the speech therapy program and she is proud of the work accomplished by the department.
In order to provide equitable access to speech-language pathology services, the clinic will offer services free of charge to everyone. A donation is never required, but if you choose to donate, it will continue to support clinic services.
“It is through the mission of St. Vincent DePaul that we are able to create services for the community,” said Jaskolski. “We can go and make sure that everyone has access to these services, whether or not they have the ability to pay.”
Jaskolski says speech therapy services are expensive and may or may not be covered by someone’s insurance.
“This is an element of social justice, where we want to make sure that everyone has the ability to communicate,” Jaskolski said.
According to the 2010 census, 27.6% of the US population identifies as a minority and 16.3% of those identified as Hispanic.
But in speech therapy, only 8.5 percent of pathologists identified themselves as a minority. Of that number, only 6.1% identify as Hispanic.
“DePaul’s speech-language pathology program focuses on recruiting diverse students to serve the communities they come from,” Jaskolski said.
According to Jaskolski, people come from all over the state. People from Crystal Lake and the far south to Olympia Field.
“People contact the clinic because they are impressed with their bilingual mission and services,” Jaskolski said.
The clinic also received referrals from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the University of Chicago Department of Medicine.
DePaul students also contact the clinic for speech therapy services. Theater and music students come to therapy to make sure they are using their voices correctly.
Jaskolski sees a bright future for students in the speech therapy program.
“All of our students are already living within our mission, which is important to us,” Jaskolski said. “My goal is that when our students graduate from here and someone sees our alumnus, they say, ‘He’s a Vincentian speech therapist.’ “
Treasyri Williams Wood, director of DePaul Speech-Language Pathology Clinic, says the response from the community has been incredible.
“We receive calls, emails and visitors daily who express how thrilled they are to finally be able to receive service tailored to their needs,” said Williams Wood.
Williams Wood said bilingual services are important in Chicago because of its diverse population.
“Our goal is to increase the cultural humility of our graduate students by living out our mission of inclusion and fairness in service,” she said. “This is the job to be done.”
Williams Wood said she is passionate about her vocation and because she shares her experiences with future pathologists.
“I have no doubt that their curiosity, compassion and tenacity will inspire them to change our profession for the better,” said Williams Wood.
Jenifer Marin, a graduate student in speech therapy, said that as a Colombian American, Marin has experienced the importance of bilingual services.
“My parents who don’t speak English had a really hard time getting to the doctor and I had to go and defend them,” Marin said. “So having bilingual services where a doctor can meet your needs is really useful. “
In order to provide services to bilingual patients, the students of his cohort take the courses required for the bilingual program. Students work with Elia Olivares, who is the director of the culturally and linguistically diverse program in speech-language pathology and clinical supervisor of the bilingual program.
“One class that I am currently taking is diversity and cultural awareness,” Marin said. “I’m learning to be aware of diverse cultures and to approach patients appropriately. “
As part of her preparation to start working in the clinic with the faculty, Marin says she had the opportunity to do her first screening as a student.
A speech and language screening consists of a 30-minute assessment of a child’s understanding of speech, language, and reading and writing skills. This then makes it possible to identify any problems in order to benefit from an adequate speech therapy intervention.
Marin says she has experience with children. Previously, she was a therapist for autistic children.
“It’s really good because I can see their progress,” Marin said. “I worked in the area of early intervention, so if the children had speech delays, I was able to determine which therapy would be best. “
Since Marin is part of the first cohort of the Speech-Language Pathology graduate program, adjustments are made along the way to set the standard for future classes. So far, she says it’s motivating to work alongside the professors in the program.
“It was an honor. They teach us everything we need to know to be good speech therapists, ”said Marin. “They are really open to comments. I have the impression that we are all working together for the same goal.
For Marin, it is a privilege to speak and communicate with patients in Spanish. Helping someone who might be feeling lonely means a lot to Marin.
“This clinic provides a great opportunity for the bilingual community,” said Marin. “It’s an honor to do what I love but to serve a bigger purpose as a bilingual speaker in speech-language pathology services. “