Utah State University professor Ron Gillam has received the editor’s award from the Journal of Speech, Hearing, and Language Research for an article about the short-term and long-term effects of intensive language intervention programs on children with language impairments.
Gillam is the Ray L. and Eloise H. Lillywhite Endowed Chair in Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.
His research was part of a grant funded by the National Institutes of Health. The article is titled “The Efficacy of Fast ForWord Language Intervention in School-Age Children With Language Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” It received “highest merit” award as voted on by the editors of the journal. Gillam was the lead author on the article co-written with colleagues from across the nation.
The aim of the study was to assess whether children who used a commercially available language software program, Fast ForWord-Language, had greater improvement in language skills than children using other methods. This program was specifically designed to improve auditory processing deficits, which may underlie some language impairments.
The study compared four intervention strategies in children who have unusual difficulty understanding and using language. It found that all four methods resulted in significant, long-term improvements in the children’s language abilities
“Our results suggest that speech-language pathologists should engage children with auditory processing problems and language impairments in activities in which they have to listen carefully, attend closely and respond quickly, and they should do it in an intense manner,” Gillam said.
All of the interventions were delivered in an intensive, six-week, summer program that also included day camp activities. The children attended the program five days per week for three and a half hours per day and practiced their assigned interventions for an hour and forty minutes each day. The children in all four groups demonstrated statistically significant improvement on the auditory processing measures and the language measures immediately after their six-week program said Gillam. These gains are much larger than the improvements that have been reported in long-term studies of children who have received language therapy in public school settings.
“These results show that any of a number of intensive educational approaches can make a tremendous difference for children whose language and auditory processing skills are lagging,” said James F. Battey, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. “Even play with peers seemed to support the improvements the children in this study made.”
Gillam is the recipient of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Scholar/Researcher of the Year Award for 2008-2009. He was also honored as the Robins Awards Faculty Researcher of the Year for the university this year. This summer, he will conduct research and give presentations at the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia, as the recipient of the Haydn Williams Fellowship.
Gillam is an outstanding researcher who has made important contributions to the field of communication sciences and disorders, said Beth Foley, department head for Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education.
“Dr. Gillam’s research exemplifies the ideal in which scholarship informs our understanding of the nature of language disorders in children and the clinical processes that are useful in evaluating and treating language disorders,” Foley said. “The research itself is relevant to both professionals in the field and to the school-aged children with language impairments who will be the recipients of their services. This award is validation that Dr. Gillam’s work is meaningful to researchers and practicing clinicians alike.”
Gillam’s research focuses primarily on information processing, assessment and intervention with children who have language learning problems. He has delivered more than 200 invited or peer-reviewed presentations at universities and professional meetings. He has published 101 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Gillam also has a strong record of receiving grants. He has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on three federally-funded grants in the past five years.
Gillam will receive his award in November at the American Speech Hearing and Language Association Convention in New Orleans.
Writer: Latashia Redhouse, 435-797-1350, email@example.com